Syracuse Defeats Daemen 90-71 on Saturday Night in First Exhibition Matchup of the Season
By Darron Wallace
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For the first time this year, Syracuse faced a team wearing a different color on Saturday night. The Daemen College Wildcats came into town to face the Orange in the first of two exhibition matchups. Syracuse defeated the Wildcats 90-71 on the strength of a 24 point 5 assist game from redshirt junior Elijah Hughes. Although this was the first exhibition game in the Dome, this was not the “first” game action for this year’s squad. They took a trip to Italy to play a series of games overseas. Saturday was the first time the Orange were in their own building in 2019, and there was certainly a lot to take away.
Freshman wing Quincy Guerrier looked very mature in the exhibition. The young guys as a whole definitely looked like they were still adjusting to the speed of the game, even against a Division II team. Guerrier however had no problem finding his shot early and often. The first two shot attempts for the Orange were a Guerrier floater and three pointer. He finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds, and looked confident early on, which is a good sign for Syracuse.
Brycen Goodine and Joe Girard each hit a couple of threes, but also had some unforgivable turnovers. Though young, the backcourt duo showed they could certainly contribute on the offensive end. The two did struggle defensively and ball handling wise, looking hesitant at times. They were a bit unsure of some rotations in the 2-3 zone, and making some questionable passes on offense. Nonetheless, Coach Boeheim has faith that these two, like the other young guys, will steadily grow as the season wears on.
Jesse Edwards made his presence felt with his long lanky frame. He’ll definitely be on the fringe of what Coach Boeheim says will most likely be an eight or nine man rotation this season. He only had 4 rebounds on the night, but a lot of that could be a result of missing some rotations and not being in position to secure some rebounding opportunities. He’ll most likely operate out of the dunker spot for the Orange, but Edwards will be interesting to follow this season as the Orange have lacked in depth at the center position in the last couple of seasons, so to see who will step up for this year’s team will be interesting.
What else can you say about redshirt junior Elijah Hughes after he scores 24 points on 8-11 shooting, including hitting 5-7 three pointers? Hughes was fun to watch, and will easily be the best player for the Orange this season. He’ll certainly be called on to stop runs, quiet crowds, and manage the game at various points throughout the year. For a team that may struggle to score consistently, Hughes will probably be the most consistent source. He may not shoot 8-11 every night, but as long as he’s hovering around 45-50% and 4 assists a game, you have to be happy as an Orange fan. His veteran presence will be very important for the team this year.
Marek Dolezaj was rather quiet, but he had a confidence about himself that he didn’t quite seem to have last season. Dolezaj came off the bench for the Orange, as he’ll likely do for the entire year, while still seeing important minutes. While he may have only had 2 points, he looked calm and confident on the court, at times directing traffic from the high post. He did have 2 assists which will definitely be an area of focus for him this year. He may not be a prolific scorer, but if he can be strong with the ball in the high post, and alleviate pressure off of Hughes, then he’ll be contributing to the team plenty.
The team leader in rebounds was Bourama Sidibe with 10. That’s what you want if you’re Coach Boeheim. Sidibe should be an absolute glass eater this season. If he’s not, then the Orange won’t win a lot of games, plain and simple. He’ll operate primarily in the pick and roll and out of the dunker spot. If he and Dolezaj can play a strong high low game, they could be a formidable force on the inside. But Sidibe’s importance lies on the defensive end, along with rebounding.
This year Coach Boeheim said he wanted to see Buddy Boeheim show more of an ability to put the ball on the floor. While he didn’t show too many flashes of that on Saturday, he definitely reminded us why he is considered not only the best shooter on Syracuse, but one of the top shooters in the country. For a team that will shoot a lot of threes this year, Boeheim will most likely be called on to hit a lot of them. He won’t need to turn into Kyrie Irving, but if he shows the confidence and ability to put the ball on the floor even the slightest, it changes a lot of what Syracuse can do on the offensive end, in a good way.
Daemen College, while being outmatched athletically and physically, they showed no fear in the Dome. They were lead by veteran guard Breon Harris with 23 points, including back-to-back threes in the last minutes of the second half, one of them cutting the Orange lead to 16 points. The Orange led by 16 with 3:05 left in the game, after Harris’ flurry of threes and a steal that would have sent the Orange faithful into a frenzy had the Wildcats cut into the deficit even more. Forward Andrew Sischo added 15 points for the Wildcats, and was fearless down low for the veteran squad. Although Syracuse lead for almost the entire game by double digits, the Division II Wildcats never looked flustered or lost in the moment. The crowd was in the building to see the Orange, but the Wildcats certainly reminded fans that there were two teams in the Dome on Saturday night.