Syracuse is the rare team that doesn’t hold official shootarounds on game day

first_imgJim Boeheim has long been a hands-off coach. He doesn’t enforce a curfew. He rarely meets with players in one-on-one settings. His practices and team meetings are brief, and he doesn’t require his players to study much film. For the majority of his 43-year tenure, Boeheim’s developed a reputation as a “player-first” coach, former players said. For the most part, he lets them do what they want, including how they prepare for games. Syracuse’s (19-12, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) pregame plans are a rarity among Division I men’s hoops: The Orange don’t hold a shootaround several hours before tip-off. Most teams get to arenas around lunchtime to adjust to the venue — the background behind the rims, the court, the lighting. But Boeheim prefers to give players time off to rest, so they’re usually in their hotel rooms sleeping, studying and playing Fortnite. “The belief here is that you really don’t need a shootaround,” said Syracuse senior point guard Frank Howard. “Especially for guys who play all game, you don’t want to be worn out mentally. Some guys relax all day, some guys shootaround. We do what’s best for us.”SU’s last mandatory team shootaround the day of a game was March 23, 1981, according to Syracuse.com. That’s when then-senior Danny Schayes, a former first team Big East member, twisted his ankle during the walkthrough. Syracuse hasn’t held a full-team shootaround since. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMultiple players on Boeheim’s first teams, in the 1970s, said shootarounds were welcomed. Players enjoyed getting a feel for the court they’d play on that night. But since 1981, they haven’t been required to leave the hotel until about two hours before game time. By the time players change, they’re on the floor with at least 90 minutes before road games. For some, that’s plenty of time. “It’s coach’s philosophy,” said junior guard Tyus Battle, who prefers to stay at the team hotel. “I don’t think it makes a difference to get there early. We get our shots up when we arrive.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBut several players said they’d prefer to stretch out their legs a bit and void lethargy later in the day. Howard, Buddy Boeheim, Oshae Brissett and Marek Dolezaj usually opt for a game-day shootaround. At East Carolina, forward Elijah Hughes said he was required to partake in game-day prep. Hughes didn’t mind the frequent pregame sessions, but he said he enjoys the approach at SU better. He appreciates the choice. “I’d rather just chill out all day,” said Hughes, who’s averaging a career-best 13.4 points per game. Former Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer said he’d rather shoot during the day, a requirement at Vanderbilt, his new school. “I really like that, shooting, so you’re not just walking into warmups and having to adjust right before the game,” Moyer said. Some current SU players side with Moyer’s preferences, including Boeheim’s son, Buddy, who squeezes in a brief workout at the hotel fitness center on game days. Syracuse game-day schedules vary, but usually they run as follows: Breakfast around 10 a.m. An optional bus for shootaround leaves between noon and 1 p.m. and returns by 3:30 for a team meeting to rehearse the game plan, players said. Then, the bus leaves two hours before game start. The Orange won’t play another home game this season. During their postseason on the road in the next couple of weeks, players have the option to lounge at the team Marriott. But on days like Wednesday, when they don’t tip off until 9 p.m., players have free time. Game-day walkthroughs could make players over-think aspects of the game, Battle and Buddy said. Some would rather just rest and get in the zone, Battle included. But last season, Brissett and Dolezaj were among the only other players to opt for game-day shootarounds. More players have caught on this year, including Howard and freshman point guard Jalen Carey. “We don’t do anything all day in the hotel. We sit on our phone,” Dolezaj said. “I get more tired sitting there, so I’d rather get some shots up.”Brissett enjoys getting in a shooting rhythm for an hour with associate head coach Adrian Autry. He sees the sessions as an extension of practice, a way to develop his game in a quiet arena with few teammates or coaches watching. “I think it’s important to get there early as a shooter to see the depth, background and floor,” Buddy said. “The arenas are very different from one another. I’d rather get in there, get loose, not rush before the game.”But unlike other programs, players still get the choice. For some, getting to the gym beats hours of lounging. For others, shooting midday makes no sense. Comments Published on March 12, 2019 at 3:18 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more