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.