Tag: Kaleb Joseph

Michael Gbinije

Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije working towards move to point guard

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After serving as a reserve during the 2013-14 season versatile guard Michael Gbinije was a key figure for the Syracuse Orange last season. Gbinije, who began his college career at Duke, accounted for 12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 35 minutes of action per contest. And given the fact that the Orange lost a critical offensive piece in Rakeem Christmas, Gbinije will once again need to be a major contributor in 2015-16.

In addition to scoring Gbinije will need to be prepared to spend even more time on the ball. In an interview with Donna Ditota of the Syracuse Post-Standard, among the topics discussed was head coach Jim Boeheim’s desire to be able to use Gbinije at the point and what the rising fifth-year senior is doing to ensure that he’s prepared for the move.

DD: He has hinted that he wants you to play point guard. What are your thoughts about that?

MG: I kind of like it. It’s going to be the first time in my career I’m going to start at the point guard and then play it. It’s kind of exciting and I’m ready for it.

DD: So you’re planning to be the starting point guard at the season-opener?

MG: The decision is ultimately not mine, but if it could go that way, yeah, I would like that.

One year after having Tyler Ennis to rely upon at the point, things didn’t go as smoothly for the Orange in 2014-15. Another freshman, Kaleb Joseph, moved into the role left vacant by Ennis’ departure to the NBA and he struggled to reach the level of consistency Syracuse needed at the point.

Joseph averaged 3.8 assists per contest last season but had issues when it came to providing some scoring from the point, averaging 5.9 points per game and shooting 37.6 percent from the field and 20 percent from three. Moving Gbinije to the spot alongside fellow fifth-year senior Trevor Cooney (13.4 ppg) would give Syracuse an option opponents would have to account for as both a distributor and a scorer, not to mention the length the 6-foot-7 Gbinije provides defensively.

How Syracuse handles the point guard duties, and whether or not Gbinije proves ready for the shift, will be something to keep an eye on during the early portion of the 2015-16 season.

No. 7 Villanova’s wild rally forces OT, where they beat Syracuse (VIDEO)

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Syracuse was rolling. They were up by as much as 14 points in the second half, having held the lead for the entire game despite the fact that Chris McCullough had basically done nothing for 40 minutes.

The Orange were about to put away the most important performance of their season — a win over No. 7 Villanova in Philadelphia — when disaster struck:

In the extra frame, McCullough, Rakeem Christmas and Michael Gbinije all fouled out as the Wildcats held on for an 82-77 win in the battle between old Big East rivals.

Credit where credit’s due: Villanova really played well in the second half, forcing turnovers, getting to the offensive glass and making big plays when big plays needed to be made. JayVaughn Pinkston led the way with 25 points and 10 boards while Darrun Hilliard added 23 points and four steals, including a stretch of eight straight that he had early in the second half to spark the comeback.

Villanova beat the Orange on a day where they didn’t play anywhere near their best game. Syracuse is not exactly an ACC title contender, but they’re a pretty good team that played exceptionally well on Saturday, and Villanova won despite having an off night and making some uncharacteristic mistakes.

That’s a great sign for the Wildcats.

But that won’t make Jim Boeheim feel any better about the way his team dropped this game.

Because they finally looked like the Syracuse team that everyone (except me, it seems) had slotted in the preseason top 25. Rakeem Christmas was playing great in the paint, finishing with 18 points. Michael Gbinije had easily the best game of his basketball career, finishing with 18 points, eight boards and five assists, all career-highs. Kaleb Joseph had 10 points and 10 assists, making a number of tough, crucial plays — and more importantly, correct decisions — down the stretch.

It looked like everything was starting to come together, like all it took was a chance to beat Villanova for the Orange to figure it out.

But a late turnover and some foul trouble in overtime ruined that.

This was the last chance for the Orange to notch a marquee non-conference win. If they end up on the bubble in March, this game will be the reason why.

Spike Albrecht, Ricky Doyle (who?) lead No. 17 Michigan to win over ‘Cuse

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It was vintage Spike Albrecht on Tuesday night, as everyone’s favorite not-actually-a-walk-on point guard finished 11 points and nine assists without a turnover, hitting a three with 31 seconds left to lead No. 17 Michigan to a 68-65 win over Syracuse.

Albrecht had nine points and six assists in the second half alone. For a team with a back court that includes Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, it’s surprising to hear that a kid who got his first scholarship offer — from UMass-Lowell — midway through his post-grad year was the star.

He wasn’t alone, either.

Ricky Doyle, another unknown on Michigan’s roster, shined as well. He finished with 12 points and six boards, five of which came on the offensive end of the floor. They also did this:

Back before the season began, I said that the play of redshirt freshman big man Mark Donnal would be the key to the Michigan season.

I was right and wrong. A different big man, Doyle, has a chance to be the difference maker for this group this year. What the Wolverines do not have on their roster this season is a Jordan Morgan, a strong, physical low-post presence that will defend hard, rebound hard, screen hard and do all of the dirty work while, you guessed it, playing hard.

He doesn’t need to be Frank Kaminsky or Jahlil Okafor, but he does need to be a guy that keeps possessions alive by getting to the offensive glass. He needs to be a presence in Michigan’s ball-screen action, a guy diving to the rim and dunking if defenses collapse on one of Michigan’s guards. He needs to block some shots and take some charges and do all that dirty work that Morgan did for so long.

And in recent weeks, he has been. In the last four games, Doyle is averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 boards. If he does that all season long, Michigan might end up being the second best team in the Big Ten.

As far as Syracuse is concerned, it was nice to see Trevor Cooney get it going offensively, and Chris McCullough did some really impressive things once he returned to the court after being in foul trouble, but nothing about this performance changes the way that I feel about the Orange.

Kaleb Joseph is not ready for the roll he is being asked to play, which is something I wrote about extensively from New York City last week. He’s going to be a good point guard down the road, but as of right now, he’s overwhelmed. Tonight certainly won’t help his confidence. In the final 15 seconds, he committed two turnovers with Syracuse down by just one point. He airballed a decent looked at a three at the buzzer.

(h/t Vice Sports for the video)