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Bar Room Bicker 4

January 15, 2003 Featured No Comments




Bar Room Bicker – Syracuse and Georgia Tech’s Will Bynum

by James Burns and Nicholas Lozito

Note: This is the fourth installment of The Bar Room Bicker, which pits two college basketball enthusiasts against one another. James Burns and Nicholas Lozito are Hoopville Staff writers, and each week the two pick an array of topics and argue their sides.

Will Syracuse contend for a national championship this season?

Nicholas Lozito: I don’t know what is wrong with our nation’s sports writers, but for some reason they have not caught on to Syracuse basketball. The Orangemen should be ranked in the top-15 right now, and they will be in the top-5 by season’s end. Despite having only one loss, they only cracked the top-25 this week. The Orangemen have one of the top-five starting lineups in the nation, and they are only improving as the season progresses.

Small forward Carmelo Anthony (23.5 points 9.7 boards) is the top freshman in the nation. He would have been a first-round pick had he entered the draft. Anthony has the ability to take it to the rack, stroke it from outside and bang with the big men. While he is the best player on Jim Boeheim’s roster, Anthony has a great supporting cast. Freshman point guard Gerry McNamara is a pure scorer (15.1 points) who is also capable of finding open players (5.2 assists). Power forward Hakim Warrick is very athletic in the paint, and looks like the clone of Keon Clark, both in stature and play. Shooting guard Kueth Duany proved another athletic player who can shoot from outside, while seven-foot center Graig Forth put forth a great effort against Missouri (eleven points, five boards, four assists, three blocks).

The Orangemen can run and score with any team in the nation. They have won eleven in a row since an opening night loss to Memphis, and they have a huge test in No. 3 Pittsburgh coming up on Jan. 18. The will beat Pitt, and come March they will have a No. 2 seed or higher.

James Burns: I agree. There must be something wrong with America’s sports writers. Syracuse deserves to be in everybody’s top-25. They deserve to be in everybody’s top-fifteen. But Syracuse isn’t a top-five program, especially one we’d expect to be knocking on the door come March.

However, if they keep the nucleus of this year’s team together – and that means keeping freshman star Carmelo Anthony away from the NBA – Syracuse is a legitimate top-five team and championship contender next year. With the addition of a few prized recruits, especially another big man (after seven-footer Graig Forth, Syracuse doesn’t have one player over 6-9), and the maturation of key role players like Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick, they could match-up with anyone in the country. Next year.

Right now, they are way too young. Senior Kueth Duany is a solid basketball player with NBA prospects, but he isn’t the motivator they would need him to be in order to make a run at the crown. They need an older player who could corral that bunch and keep them focused through the Big East regular season, Big East Tournament and then finally the NCAA Tournament. And, unfortunately, the passive-architect, head coach Jim Boeheim, isn’t that man either.

At best, Syracuse is a Sweet 16 team. They make it that far because Anthony, Duany and McNamara carry them that far. They get that far on talent alone. But they only get that far because they are young and only seeing the journey for the first time.

Will Bynum: A star at Georgia Tech?

NL: No. Bynum has all the offensive skills imaginable. He has all the talent in the world. He can knock down the three, slash to the bucket and take his man off the dribble. What Will Bynum is missing is heart. The reason he left Arizona was because he wasn’t getting any playing time. And the reason he wasn’t getting any playing time is because he played no defense. Players like Salim Stoudamire and Hassan Adams worked there way past Bynum on the depth chart.

Unless Yellowjackets coach Paul Hewitt likes one-way players, I wouldn’t expect Will “The Thrill” to be too big a factor in the ACC over the next few years. In high school, Bynum was looked at as a pure scorer. He was supposed to put up 30-plus and not get embarrassed on defense.

JB: I knew the Arizona bubble had to burst at some point. I knew there was no way even the great Lute Olsen could keep all that talent happy. And frankly, I’m glad to see Will Bynum go, and so is Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt.

Bynum will fit in perfectly in the ACC, a conference that in that last few years has become a haven for players looking for a rebirth (Maryland’s Steve Francis came out of nowhere and Duke’s Dahntay Jones by way of Rutgers). Bynum still has all the tools to be a great college basketball player. Despite being suffocated on the bench behind Stoudamire and Adams, he can still shoot, dribble, drive and, contrary to popular belief, play defense.

I think this time Bynum is going to see the light. He is going to realize that college players aren’t given many chances, let alone a second. He will make the most out of his time at Georgia Tech. He will play to win, he will play to fulfill lost dreams and he will play to prove naysayers wrong. But most of all he will play for playing time and chance to shine, so that the next time he returns to the bench it will be during a timeout and not for the opening tip.

James Burns and Nicholas Lozito are a Hoopville Staff writers living in Sacramento.

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