Orangemen roll past Team Nike, 94-82

The Syracuse Orangemen opened their pre-season with a 94-82 victory over the NIKE Elite All-Stars Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome. The Orangemen sustained a barrage of three-point shots from Team Nike to pull out the win.

It's too early to pass judgment, but the game offered a glimpse into what the season might hold.

As expected junior forward Hakim Warrick stepped up and assumed a huge role leading the Orange with 21 points. What was unexpected was Warrick knocking down a three-point shot minutes into the game.

"It won't be a big part of my game," Warrick said. "I won't be out there like G-Mac, but if the team backs off me and I get an open look, I'm going to have the confidence to try to knock it down."

In addition to his usual high-flying dunks Warrick showed improved range on his turn-around jumper, taking it out of the lane to about 17 feet.

Another expected improvement, junior guard Josh Pace's jump-shot, looks like it may need a little more time. He took a few more outside shots than in the past, but the hitch, which Pace said he had fixed, remains. Pace scored 11 points for the Orange on a combination of jumpers in the lane and a few trips to the foul line.

Sophomore point guard Billy Edelin added 16 points in his usual manner; a bunch of drives to the basket and post-ups, but did not attempt any outside jumpers, leaving his ability to do so still in question.

"Always in the first game you're going to find things you can improve on," Edelin said. "But as far as effort, I think we put a good effort out there for the first night and we'll just build on that."

Sophomore guard and the pride of Scranton, Pa. Gerry McNamara had just nine points, all coming on three consecutive three-pointers he drilled midway through the first half.

The fifth starter, junior center Craig Forth, was quiet scoring just four points on two reverse dunks off the offensive boards.

Off the bench were the three Syracuse freshmen, Terrence Roberts, Demetris Nichols, and Darryl Watkins, along with sophomore Matt Gorman and senior center Jeremy McNeil.

McNeil was impressive, blocking a shot immediately upon entering the game. But, even more impressive was McNeil's seven points, showing off the new hands he said he had around the basket. He shot only 1-4 from the free throw line, however, and had just the one blocked shot.

Gorman looked lost air-balling two jump shots and turning the ball over. He did score three points, two coming from an emphatic two-handed dunk off a Watkins feed.

Watkins played well, but looked like a freshmen at times. He scored four points and hit the boards hard, but missed a dunk of a nice alley-oop pass from McNamara in the second half. He seems to have a tremendous upside.

Nichols started slow, air-balling his first shot from the corner, but soon found his range and knocked down a triple and a jumper from the corner. He finished with seven points.

Freshmen Terrence Roberts, perhaps the most hyped player coming into the game, started off slow but soon showed glimpses of his potential. Roberts showed of an array of turn-around jumpers and floaters through the lane in route to 12 points in his Syracuse debut. He attacked the boards hard, but was thrown around a lot by Team Nike. He did, however, show the most enthusiasm on the team, pounding his chest on several occasions after making a good play. He gave the crowd a scare when falling to the floor following a thundering follow-up slam off a Forth miss with only about a minute remaining in the game.

"(The freshmen) really did a good job," Warrick said. "I know how I was as a freshman and how nervous I was. Just to go out there and perform like they did, they did a good job and didn't let anybody down."

What about the 2-3 zone? What about it? It was awful. The Orange could not stop an onslaught of three-pointers and outside shots by Team Nike, led by former Kansas star Jeff Boschee, who poured in 21 points for the All-stars.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was noticeably upset, hollering up and down the sideline in traditional Boeheim fashion, at Syracuse's inability to defend against the outside shooters.

"I didn't think our perimeter guarding was good," Boeheim said. "When we did move up to take away the three, we let guys get by us."

The Orangemen did show some teamwork throughout the game dishing out 21 assists, and they moved the ball well for the first game of the season, but not great, turning the ball over 13 times.

"I thought that we did a lot of good things for the first time out," Boeheim said. "This was a good step for us."

Next up for the Orange is the Harlem Globetrotters, who just defeated No. 3 Michigan State 97-83 on Sunday, next Tuesday at the Dome. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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