Syracuse Basketball: Adrian Autry talks tempo, zone, roster, new job – and Hoyas

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

With the NCAA’s transfer portal and NIL having significantly altered collegiate athletics, Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian Autry, fewer than two months into his new post, has had a lot on his plate.

That’s true of virtually any head coach in Division I men’s hoops, but for Autry, navigating everything probably feels even a bit more overwhelming, given that last month, he was named by Syracuse University leaders to succeed Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim as the Orange’s new head coach.

To his credit, Adrian Autry has hit the ground running in many respects. He retained two key assistants and brought on a third one. He’s been out on the recruiting trail, watching several 2024 players in person.

Syracuse basketball also recently hosted a four-star big man in the junior class out of Washington, D.C., on an official visit. And Autry has picked up two talented guards out of the transfer portal (both former recruiting targets), with Auburn’s Chance Westry committing on Monday after Central New York native J.J. Starling said he would move from Notre Dame to the ‘Cuse a few weeks back.

Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian Autry delved into a variety of topics on a podcast.

On Monday, Autry was a guest on the College Hoops Today Podcast, which is hosted by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

Autry says he was “very, very humbled” when SU officials named him to replace Jim Boeheim at the helm of the Orange, and Autry acknowledges that he has big shoes to fill, given Boeheim won a national championship in 2003 and has the second-most wins in the history of Division I men’s basketball.

Autry, who played for Boeheim and was a long-time assistant on his staff, says the key is that he’s hit the ground running, diving in right away, which gives him less opportunity to think about the magnitude of trying to replace Boeheim.

Adrian Autry says Boeheim has taught him many things, with the main thing being consistency. Don’t get too high when you’re on a winning streak and don’t get too low when you’re on a losing streak – just keep pushing, Autry says.

He learned from Boeheim to expect things to happen, make adjustments as needed, “nothing is the end of the world,” and keep going each and every day. I love that.

This next nugget is beautiful. Autry says the first two guys he was recruiting hard after he got the head-coaching job at Syracuse basketball were assistants Gerry McNamara and Allen Griffin. Both are staying. McNamara is now the team’s associate head coach, while Griffin remains an assistant coach.

Keeping that continuity on the staff was pivotal, Autry says. The Orange also recently hired Brenden Straughn as an assistant coach, and he has tremendously strong recruiting ties in the fertile Washington, D.C., market.

As head coach, Adrian Autry is making a lot more phone calls, doing a lot more interviews, and having a lot more conversations. He isn’t sleeping as much. To him, the main thing in his new role is that his mind is always consumed with something regarding the program – practices, recruiting, academics, the next move, etc.

Speaking of moves, Autry acknowledges the challenges in college basketball these days, given the transfer portal and NIL. He and his assistances are focused on getting the squad’s roster in order ahead of the 2023-24 stanza, and there is clearly a lot going on.

Senior center Jesse Edwards committed to West Virginia. Senior guard Symir Torrence is in the transfer portal. Senior guard Joe Girard III is in the transfer portal, testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters and maintaining his college eligibility.

Redshirt junior big man John Bol Ajak is in the transfer portal. Freshman point guard Judah Mintz is testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters while maintaining his collegiate eligibility. Sophomore forward Benny Williams and freshman forward Chris Bell are coming back. We’ll have to see what others on the 2022-23 roster elect to do.

Given that Mintz may not return, Syracuse basketball coaches picking up Starling and Westry is big-time. Adrian Autry says finding an experienced center “who can be a threat” is a priority.

Autry says that he’s in constant communication with Judah Mintz, and the Orange is preparing 2023-24 paths with and without him on the ‘Cuse roster.

Starling and Autry have known each other for a long time, and the head coach says Starling is a dynamic play-maker who had a solid freshman year at Notre Dame and just has to improve his shot some.

Autry discussed Bell, Williams, freshman forward Maliq Brown and freshman wing Justin Taylor a little. Autry says all of them played well at times in 2022-23, but they were inconsistent, which is understandable because they are underclassmen.

Williams, who had some strong outings toward the end of the 2022-23 stanza, “is the one who can really string it together” in 2023-24, Autry believes.

Naturally, Adrian Autry is being asked about the Orange’s iconic 2-3 zone, a staple of Jim Boeheim-coached groups for many years. Autry says he sees the value in playing some zone, but with the way today’s game has evolved, he thinks the ‘Cuse has to be more versatile. As such, he is likely to play both zone and man defenses.

When Rothstein asked the Orange head coach about the team’s style of play moving forward, Autry says it will be up-tempo. It will be fun. Up and down. Versatile. Aggressive. Playing hard and playing together as a team.

Since leaving the Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013-14, Syracuse basketball has continued to compete against storied rival Georgetown, and Autry says he hopes that non-conference series will keep on going. He noted that he believes the Hoyas, under new head coach Ed Cooley, the former boss at Providence, are building excitement in our nation’s capital.

It’s good for both schools and resonates with both fan bases, Autry says.

In late November of this year, the Orange will compete against a top-flight field at the 40th-annual Maui Jim Maui Invitational from the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii.

To that end, while the ‘Cuse is still working on its 2023-24 slate, Autry says his team will face a “very challenging schedule.”

Rothstein asked him about his biggest goals for 2023-24, which obviously would include getting to the NCAA Tournament after missing it each of the past two terms. Autry says he wants to get “back to our standards,” which entails winning 20-plus games every season, playing at a high tempo, sharing the ball and getting after it on both ends of the floor.

Adrian Autry sums it up this way: “It’s going to be exciting.”

I can’t wait, Coach.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: 4-star SG Kiyan Anthony ‘establishing his own game’. dark