Tyler Ennis’ play in U19s promising for Syracuse

Leave a comment

While much of the attention from the U19 World Championships over the last two weeks was heaped upon the Americans — Aaron Gordon, Montrezl Harrell, Jahlil Okafor, etc. — perhaps the most important player at the event suited up for our neighbors up north.

Tyler Ennis played his high school ball for St. Benedict’s in New Jersey and will be moving on to play for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse this coming season, but Ennis is one of the best players in a loaded class for Canadian hoopers.

He’s also a point guard, which Syracuse is in dire need of with Michael Carter-Williams turning pro the same year that Brandon Triche graduated. The Orange have a slew of talent once again — CJ Fair, Jerami Grant, Trevor Cooney and yet another loaded recruiting class, to name a few — but Ennis will be the only floor general on the roster.

Coming in with the reputation of being more of a facilitator than scorer — he’s described by ESPN as being “a great play maker that can also run the team” — how did Ennis do in Russia? Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News breaks it down:

In a quarterfinal matchup against the U.S., Ennis was overwhelmed by the constant pressure from a series of rotating American defenders. He was not alone; teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes, bound for Florida State, got the same treatment. Ennis shot 5-of-12 from the field and scored only 11 points.

Ennis led the tournament in scoring, though, in part because of a 42-point explosion against China in a classification game. He shot 15-of-32 from the field in that one, getting to the lane at will. That is his game. He is not an exceptional 3-point shooter yet, and the development of that part of his game will determine how greatly he succeeds.

Struggling against the Americans is a bit concerning, but his scoring is a good sign.

Syracuse is going to need Ennis to be aggressive offensively. While there are pieces around him, there aren’t many guys that are going to be able to consistently create their own shot. And outside of CJ Fair, their leading returning scorer is Rakeem Christmas, who averaged all of 5.1 points.

The Orange will need Ennis to be a scoring threat, and it looks like he’s capable of doing that when needed.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Northeastern beats No. 15 Miami at the buzzer

Leave a comment

Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

rad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
1 Comment

Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.