T'Wolves Fans, Meet Jonny Flynn: A Syracuse Fan's Perspective

Dan KelleyCorrespondent IJune 27, 2009

MIAMI - MARCH 22:  Guard Jonny Flynn #10 of the Syracuse Orange goes up to dunk against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the American Airlines Arena on March 22, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

As Jonny himself has said, it wasn’t until Syracuse’s six overtime win over UConn in the Big East quarterfinals this past March that he really broke onto the national scene.  

If you were to ask a Syracuse fan though, he wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that it was obvious that Jonny Flynn was going to be special the moment he stepped onto the court in Syracuse.

In his first collegiate game, Flynn torched the Siena Saints for 28 points, breaking Carmelo Anthony’s school record for points scored by a freshman in his debut with 27. 

As impressive as that accomplishment was on its own, it was even more exciting because while Syracuse fans knew he was considered to be a great floor general, it wasn’t clear whether he would be able to score at the college level. 

Score he did though. Flynn started every game as a freshman and averaged 15.7 ppg, to go along with his 5.3 apg.

Flynn would prove to everyone that he was much more than just a scorer and a distributor though. Even as a freshman, he quickly became the team’s leader and a vital part of their success. 

Any time there was a stoppage in play, you could see Flynn talking to his teammates offering encouragement or direction to even more experienced members of the Orange. 

He became such an important part of the team, head coach Jim Boeheim rarely put him on the bench once Big East play began.

His freshman season would end in disappointment (although Flynn was named co-Big East Freshman of the Year), with Syracuse missing the NCAA Tournament, but Orange fans knew that despite losing their other fantastic freshman, Donte’ Greene to the NBA draft, they could expect a special season as long as Flynn was coming back.

Expectations for Jonny going into his sophomore year were high, as many publications began touting him as one of college’s best point guards. As it would turn out, Flynn not only met the expectations, but exceeded them.

In his second season, Flynn displayed not only his leadership but also a real knack for coming through in the clutch. He displayed all year that he could be relied on to get a basket or dish out an assist when Syracuse needed it most.  

Never was this more apparent than during Syracuse’s come-from-behind victory over Kansas in the College Basketball Experience championship when Flynn capped off his team’s comeback with a game tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. After Jonny’s dramatics, he and the Orange cruised to victory in the additional five minute period.

Flynn continued to play well through the rest of the year, and his comfort running the offense became noticeably higher as the season progressed. His stellar play earned him high praise, such as Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News saying, “(Flynn is) college basketball's best point guard. Flynn is the best point guard because he is light on weakness and committed to his team.”

Of course it wasn’t until after the regular season, during  the Big East Tournament that Jonny Flynn became a household name. In the epic six overtime thriller dubbed, “Six in the City” Jonny cemented his legendary status in the Syracuse history books by playing 67 of the 70 total minutes and recording 34 points and 11 assists in the win.

Although the game sometimes seemed like it would never end, Flynn never failed to come through in the clutch, hitting big shot after big shot, including all 16 of his free throws.

Thanks to the historic nature of that game, it often seems like people forget that Flynn and Syracuse had to play in two more games the next two nights. 

After finishing UConn in the early morning, they had to endure another round of overtime against West Virginia that same night. Flynn played the entire 45 minutes in the win.

Syracuse finally seemed to lose their legs in the Big East championship against Louisville, essentially their fifth game in four days. They didn’t win the championship, but Jonny Flynn did take home the Big East Tournament MVP trophy.

After the impressive Big East Tournament run, Orange fans began thinking of a national championship, but unfortunately the season ended a little sooner than Syracuse fans hoped for.

The Orange succeeded in earning a three seed in the NCAA Tournament after being relegated to the NIT the previous two seasons.  However, despite Flynn playing well, Syracuse fell to Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sweet Sixteen. 

Flynn did manage one last display of fearlessness however, when he attempted to take a charge on a fast breaking Blake Griffin and was leveled by the charging behemoth. 

On the season, Flynn led the Orange with 17.4 ppg, 6.7 apg, and 1.4 spg, leading the team in all three categories.

Now as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jonny will showcase his talent in the greatest league in basketball. 

Jonny will give the Timberwolves a true point guard who always looks to set up his teammates first, but can also find ways to put the ball in the basket himself when called upon. 

Flynn is a spectacular ball handler, who seems to have eyes in the back of his head.  He’s nearly impossible to steal the ball from because of his excellent vision, his quick reflexes and his height keeping his dribble closer to the ground. 

He has a knack for making highlight reel plays, whether they be by passing or scoring himself, as well as a tendency to make great plays in the clutch. Despite his height, he’s also a tenacious defender who’s very good at playing passing lanes and getting steals.

Perhaps most importantly though; Flynn brings to Minnesota tremendous leadership, hustle and heart.  After two seasons of playing in the toughest conference in college basketball, Flynn is as battle tested as they come.  He’s a kid who’s going to continue improving towards what should be a very high ceiling, but who is still NBA ready right now. 

However, the situation with Ricky Rubio unfolds; don’t be surprised to see Jonny Flynn making a serious case for a starting job as I’m sure he’ll soon prove, he’s the kind of talent that is impossible to keep on the bench.