Syracuse basketball, with its young roster and a first-year head coach, will continue to work hard and iron out its kinks, and the Orange did manage to commence its 2023-24 season with a pair of double-digit victories over non-conference foes.
And now, as they say, the fun begins. Well, it will only be fun for ‘Cuse fans if the Orange keeps on winning, or, at a minimum, the team plays at a high level versus upcoming elite competition while avoiding getting blown out of games.
In its first week of regular-season action, Syracuse basketball beat both Canisius and New Hampshire, with each contest transpiring on the Hill.
Over the next six weeks or so, the ‘Cuse will endure a particularly brutal stretch of games against non-conference opponents as well as fellow Atlantic Coast Conference members. Sophomore point guard Judah Mintz, a few days ago, said in essence, bring it on.
Syracuse basketball will soon face some extremely challenging foes.
Up next for the Orange is another home date, this time with Patriot League member Colgate. The Raiders have knocked off the ‘Cuse on two straight occasions, both times on the Orange’s turf.
Adrian Autry, in a press conference after the win over Canisius, noted that Colgate is an excellent program. The Raiders, in fact, have participated in the past four NCAA Tournaments. Syracuse basketball, on the other hand, has missed the last two Big Dances.
Check out what the Orange has on tap through the beginning of January 2024:
•Colgate at the Dome on November 14
•Tennessee at the 2023 Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Honolulu on November 20
•Purdue or Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational on November 21
•Kansas, Chaminade, UCLA or Marquette at the Maui Invitational on November 22
•LSU at the Dome on November 28 (ACC/SEC Challenge)
•At Virginia on December 2
•Cornell at the Dome on December 5
•At Georgetown on December 9
•Oregon in Sioux Falls, S.D., on December 17
•Niagara at the Dome on December 21
•Pittsburgh at the Dome on December 30
•At Duke on January 2
In the latest Associated Press top-25 poll, Kansas is No. 1, Duke is No. 2, Purdue is No. 3, Marquette is No. 5, Tennessee is No. 9 and Gonzaga is No. 11. UCLA, Virginia and Oregon were receiving votes in either the AP or the Coaches top-25 poll.
Jon Rothstein, a college basketball insider with CBS Sports, noted in a recent article that, moving forward, the Syracuse basketball “honeymoon is over,” and the Orange is “stepping up a weight class.”
Beginning with Colgate and through the ACC road affair at UVA in early December, Rothstein wrote, “That’s a six-game litmus test against bonafide competition.”
Autry, in his presser, says his team has to get much better on the defensive end and on the glass, but he’s encouraged by the Orange roster’s fight and grit. For example, versus both Canisius and New Hampshire, the ‘Cuse raced out to sizable leads and then these opponents significantly trimmed their deficits.
Syracuse basketball, whose 2023-24 roster includes nine sophomores and a freshman, could have panicked in those games after its advantages drastically decreased, but Autry says his guys stayed locked in, battled and built their leads back up. That kind of grit is critical, the head coach says.
Mintz, who has a whopping 46 combined points through the Orange’s first two triumphs, was asked in a recent interview about the squad’s upcoming stretch of challenging games.
He says that the ‘Cuse players will treat these encounters like any other contest they endure. Mintz says he and his teammates are just as talented, “if not more,” than those other upcoming opponents.
Syracuse basketball will be ready for those bouts, Mintz says. I dig the confidence, Judah.