Men's Basketball

Ennis controls game in Syracuse’s exhibition win over Holy Family

Ziniu Chen | Staff Photographer

Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis cuts away from a pair of defenders in the Orange's scrimmage against Division III Holy Family (Pa.) University.

Michael Carter-Williams had one of the greatest NBA rookie debuts of all time Wednesday night, but by the end of Friday night, Tyler Ennis had left no doubt that Syracuse’s new court general is fit for the job.

After taking an outlet pass from Jerami Grant with four minutes left in the first half, Ennis stormed up the court. Coasting diagonally from right to left, he smoothly maneuvered his way through Holy Family’s 2-3 zone before stopping on a dime on his left foot, turning and banking in a lefty layup.

“He did a good job running the show,” small forward C.J. Fair said.

Ennis ignited the Syracuse offense in its season-opening scrimmage against Division II Holy Family in front of 8,514 fans at the Carrier Dome on Friday night. He finished with 12 points and three assists in 18 minutes as the Orange cruised to a 79-41 victory. Fair tied for a game-high 13 points — 11 came in the second half — with nine rebounds and a game-high five assists.

But it was Ennis who catalyzed the rout. He showcased his deft passing ability to find teammates in their optimal place on the floor while attacking the rim when the opportunity presented itself.

“I know where guys like the ball,” Ennis said, “where they can be successful.”

With the Orange already out to a 5-0 lead, Ennis took a Fair rebound and raced up the court. Cutting into the lane, he flicked a scoop pass to a curling Trevor Cooney on the right wing. Cooney rose up and drained it 2:09 into regulation.

Six minutes later, Ennis penetrated the Tigers’ defense from the left baseline. As Isaiah Gans collapsed, Ennis leapt and dished to Grant for an open 15-footer. 14-2.

After corralling one of Alberto Munoz’s seven missed 3-pointers in the first half, Ennis zoomed a three-quarter court chest pass to Grant, who caught it in transition and flipped it in on the reverse.

“It’s kind of in the moment,” Ennis said about the move. “You can’t really throw it. You can’t really bounce it. For me it’s the easiest pass.

“It’s risky. A lot of times it doesn’t work, but when it does it’s an easy play for your teammate.”

The Tigers’ defense stretched and stumbled as Ennis and the Orange shot 44.4 percent in the first half. SU extended its lead to 35-11 with 3:49 left when Ennis canned a 3 on one possession and carved up the Holy Family defense for his coast-to-coast score on the next.

By halftime, Ennis was not only Syracuse’s leading assist man, but one of its leading scorers with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line.

He committed two turnovers – the same total he would finish with – but said it was just a product of playing his first game against opposing players in more than a month.

“I saw him make mistakes he normally doesn’t make,” Fair said. “That’s normal for a freshman point guard. Overall, I think he played well.”

Ennis played more sparingly in the second half, but turned in one more highlight-reel play before the night was finished.

Running out on a Holy Family miss, Ennis hauled in an outlet from Fair and elevated at the rim, going chest to chest with Ervin Ezell.

As he hit his peak height and began to decline, Ennis swirled a left-handed circus shot up and straight through the hoops, barely touching the net.

Sitting on the bench with eight minutes left in the Orange’s rout, Ennis hung a towel around his neck, loosened his shoelaces and flashed a smile — one he rarely displays on the court.

It was only a scrimmage, but he was confident in commanding the SU offense.

Head coach Jim Boeheim felt the same way when a reporter asked about Ennis’ performance during his postgame press conference.

“He was fine,” Boeheim said. “I don’t even think about him.”

  • Malcolm Brooks

    I’m looking forward to an exciting season. GO Cuse!

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