Jim Boeheim fittingly spent most of this past Sunday recruiting for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team before ending the weekend with a family dinner.
The Orange head coach approaching his 46th season had already received an appropriate Father’s Day gift from his two sons, Jimmy and Buddy, by getting their maximum effort through the prior two weeks of SU on-campus summer workouts.
Syracuse is about a quarter of the way through its eight-week summer program that includes the start of classes and team workouts for both new and returning players. Coaches have worked them through individual and small-group drills, akin to past summers after being barred from training last year until July 20 before strict COVID-19 protocols were implemented.
“It’s an opportunity to get our new guys used to what we’re doing and to get acquainted with the campus, so it’s a really good learning time for them,” Jim Boeheim said during a Tuesday phone interview.
“It’s a big improvement over last year as to what we’re able to do and what the players are able to do in the city,” he added. “It’s light years ahead of where we were last year at this time in terms of everyday life.”
Senior guard Buddy Boeheim leads a group of three returning starters while his older brother, Jimmy — the 6-foot-8 and 220-pound fifth-year graduate transfer from Cornell — is among the incoming transfers that has helped infuse the new-look Orange with NCAA Division I experience.
Senior 6-9 and 225-pound forward Cole Swider was added after appearing in every game over the last two years for Villanova, and 6-3 junior guard Symir Torrence transferred in after playing all but five games over the past two seasons at Marquette.
The newcomers, along with the incoming 6-8, five-star freshman forward Benny Williams, will look to shine in place of the key departing transfers. That group consists of former starting forward Quincy Guerrier and reserves Kadary Richmond and Robert Braswell, while starter Alan Griffin also left the program to declare for the NBA Draft.
Jim Boeheim said that the veteran savvy of the incoming group has been on display through the early portion of offseason workouts.
“This is probably the most experienced team that we’ve had in a long time, so it will be interesting to see how they all come together, but it’s a very experienced team,” he said.
“The forwards are bigger, and I think a little bit stronger, and the guards are veterans with a lot of experience,” he added. “Overall, this is a very experienced team, and we will have some time to work them into the system this summer and fall. I think it’s a good group.”
The starting backcourt of junior Joe Girard III and senior Buddy Boeheim is back on campus along with fifth-year center, Bourama Sidibe, who leads the returning center group of junior Jesse Edwards, sophomore Frank Anselem and redshirt sophomore John Bol Ajak, who initially entered the NCAA transfer portal but opted to return to SU.
Sidibe is training after missing most of last season due to a torn meniscus and subsequent infection, and coach Boeheim said he is expected to be 100 percent for the upcoming season.
Buddy Boeheim is the leading returning scorer from last year’s 18-10 squad that reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and already showing improvement this summer as he aims to build on his NCAA Tournament breakout.
Boeheim made 13 total 3-pointers to lead all players through the first two rounds of the tourney and over his last 10 games, he averaged 23 points and made 4.5 attempts from behind the arc, connecting at a rate of 45 percent from deep.
“Buddy has become a really good player and he’s developed his game,” the coach said. “He’s not just a shooter, he’s a well-rounded player and he’s a big key to what we do. He works hard at the game and gets better all the time, and he’s a valuable part of what we’re trying to do.”
DREXEL ADDED TO SU SCHEDULE
The Syracuse men’s basketball team announced that it will play a nonconference game against Drexel on Nov. 14 in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange leads the all-time series, 3-1, and last played the Dragons of the Colonial Athletic Association in 2010.