In new Syracuse basketball era, Allen Griffin excited with buzz around town

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

Assistant coach Allen Griffin says there’s a buzz around the ‘Cuse community in Central New York and beyond about the start of a new era for Syracuse basketball.

It’s probably at least a little bittersweet for Griffin, who played under Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim and served as one of his assistants for numerous years. The legendary Boeheim retired this past March, after 47 seasons at the helm of the program.

Now leading the charge is Adrian Autry, also a former ‘Cuse player under Boeheim and a long-time assistant on his staff. Griffin, who works with the team’s centers and is a terrific coach, said in a recent interview it’s a new era of Syracuse basketball under first-year head coach Autry, and Griffin is excited to see one of his good friends take the reins from Boeheim.

Recently, Allen Griffin touched on a variety of topics in an interview with the fabulous duo of Steve Infanti and Paulie Scibilia on their ESPN Radio Syracuse program, “Orange Nation.”

Griffin said that as the 2023-24 regular season approaches on Monday, Nov. 6, when the ‘Cuse will host New Hampshire, there is a “buzz around town.” Syracuse basketball fans and the larger community will, under Autry, be seeing something different in terms of playing styles, and Griffin calls it an “exciting time, and I’m just looking forward to being a part of it.”

Assistant coach Allen Griffin says the Syracuse basketball centers are a “good group.”

Let’s take a look at some of the things Griffin touched on in his interview with Infanti and Scibilia. Griffin, understandably, was asked about sophomore guard Chance Westry, a transfer from Auburn who is out indefinitely after suffering a lower-body injury during a recent practice.

While Griffin preferred not to provide a lot of details, he did say that the Orange coaching staff expects to have Westry back at some point later on in the 2023-24 campaign. Allen Griffin also pointed to the squad’s tremendous depth in the backcourt and out on the wing, something for which I wholeheartedly agree.

Losing Westry for a portion of 2023-24 isn’t ideal, but the ‘Cuse still has an abundance of guards and small forwards within its line-up.

Sophomore guard/small forward Quadir Copeland, who stole the show for the Orange in its exhibition win over Division II Daemen last Friday night, has been shooting at an impressive clip from long range in preseason practices, according to Griffin, who added that redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr., a Kansas transfer, has also played extremely well in practices.

Allen Griffin says that the team’s practices are quite intense, and he and other Syracuse basketball coaches have noted that their 2023-24 roster is a highly competitive group, which is a positive thing.

However, Griffin says it’s also important for Orange players to be focusing more as a collective unit as the regular season rolls around. “They’re teammates, first and foremost,” the ‘Cuse assistant coach says.

It’s no secret that Syracuse basketball has a void to fill at center, after senior Jesse Edwards, an All-ACC performer a stanza ago, transferred to West Virginia. Griffin, rather emphatically, says that the Orange’s 2023-24 centers are up to the challenge, and he also dispels the notion a bit that this position group is the biggest “question mark” ahead of the upcoming season.

I get what Coach Griffin is saying. He’s making the point that all of the position groups are relatively equal, so to speak, before a new term begins, and also that other areas of the ‘Cuse roster have things to monitor as well.

What I mean by that – and what I think what Griffin was saying – is that Syracuse basketball brought in four transfers this past off-season, three of them being guards/wings and one of them a center in Florida State transfer Naheem McLeod, a junior.

Plus, the Orange 2023-24 roster has 13 scholarship players: three juniors, nine sophomores and one freshman. So the line-up is relatively young across all position groups.

Additionally, Edwards didn’t really burst onto the scene until his junior year. McLeod, the presumed starter at center in 2023-24, is just beginning his junior season. What’s to say that he won’t make a big junior-year leap much as Edwards did?

In 2023-24, the Syracuse basketball centers are McLeod, junior Mounir Hima, sophomore Peter Carey and freshman William Patterson. Furthermore, Griffin confirmed that sophomore power forward Maliq Brown will see time at the center spot as well.

Allen Griffin says that he’s “got a good group of guys” at center to produce strong results in the upcoming campaign. While Edwards is more of a proven “commodity” at this point, I believe Griffin when he says that the Orange will be solid at this position.

The two main keys, he says, are for the team’s centers to continue working hard in practices to improve and come together as a unit, while also continuing to add strength in the weight room.

It’s understandable that national and Atlantic Coast Conference pundits have spent most of their time highlighting the ‘Cuse backcourt ahead of 2023-24. I get it. There’s a lot of talent there.

Personally, I think the center spot will be more than credible. I wouldn’t sleep on this position group. Allen Griffin, it appears, is echoing that sort of sentiment.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Maliq Brown going to have breakout sophomore year. dark