The Johnsoning Begins (and other bits of Orange)

We are less than a month away from Syracuse basketball’s first exhibition game, and the energy in these parts is, if not palpable, then at least noticeable as a sort of background hum. Kutztown will face Orange wrath soon enough. But there are some other things that you need to know. We’ll run them down right here over the next couple of days, starting with:

Former Orangemen in the Pros

Wes Johnson made his preseason debut yesterday in London as the T-Wolves defeated the “Lakers”. (Any game where Kobe plays 6 minutes and doesn’t score doesn’t count as a win over the Lakers.) Somewhat oddly, Wes started in the shooting guard spot. He scored 9 points on 4-6 shooting (1-1 from deep) in 20 minutes. The strange stat was that the guy had no rebounds. For someone with his leaping and glass-cleaning abilities, that is bizarre. I guess playing shooting guard, he spent most of his time on the perimeter defending the opposing SG, and wasn’t in position to hit the boards (or, Coach Rambis specifically wants him to get down the floor quickly on a change in possession). One preseason game is of course far from enough to draw any conclusions, but I have a sudden fear that we are about to see another instance of Kurt Rambis forcing players into a defined role in his system, rather than designing his game plan to fit his players’ strengths (see Flynn, Jonny). Here are some thoughts on the game from Timberwolves blog Canis Hoopus. They seem to like Wes at the 2, as a shooter/slasher/scorer. Minny will play the New York Rautinses tomorrow afternoon in Paris.

Just to recap for you, here is the full list of NBA guys on training camp rosters:

Flynn, Johnson, Hart - Minnesota
Warrick - Phoenix
Anthony - Denver (for now)
Thomas - Atlanta
Greene - Sacramento
Rautins - New York
Watkins - New Orleans
Nichols - Utah

In addition, we know that Eric Devendorf will be playing in Australia for the Melbourne Tigers this fall; their season begins on 10/15. Elvir Ovcina re-signed with the LTI 46ers in Germany; their season began on Oct 2, in a game in which Elvir had 5 points and 8 rebounds. Preston Shumpert is going to play in Turkey again this season, but with a new team. He left Efes Pilsen to join Galatasaray Cafe Crown. And Terrence “Kodiak” Roberts signed a couple of weeks ago to play in Ukraine. He’s already got two games under his belt playing for FERRO-ZNTU ZAPOROZHYE.

In his first game he had 6 points and 5 rebounds; in the second, 10 points and 4 boards. Oh, and 5 fouls in each game. Plus 6 turnovers in the first game and 4 in the second. Sounds about right.

Paul Harris is, for the moment, still looking for a team. So are Matt Gorman, Josh Pace, and Kristof Ongenaet. We will let you know where they land. Ryan Blackwell, you may recall, decided to end his four-year Japanese playing career and was hired as the new head coach of Osaka Evessa, the team with which he’d played for the past two seasons. He could conceivably be a player-coach, but so far there is no indication that it is his plan.

Next time: “The 2010-11 SU hoop schedule had better be lying”


  1. Posted October 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Any sense of whether Watkins or Nichols have a shot of sticking this year?

    (You have assumed the roll of guru on these matters, even among your fellow staffers)

  2. Posted October 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Well, Mookie played some minutes in the Hornets’ first preseason game (their only one to date). They have 13 guys under contract, so they have at most two slots, and 4 players currently vying for them. Mook is the only big man among the 4, so it becomes a question of whether they need size or versatility out of those last roster spots. Nichols did not appear in Utah’s first game. The Jazz only have 11 contracts so they could sign as many as 4 of their six non-roster invitees. So he’s got a shot also but clearly has some work to do. A lot of times teams will not break camp with a full 15-man roster, so that they have more flexibility with the salary cap to sign someone midseason.

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