The Syracuse Orange finished 19-12 in the 2007-08 season, which was actually an unexpected achievement, considering it was the team's first year without its much-beloved, graduated guard Gerry McNamara.
A flashy playmaker named Jonny Flynn strolled into town with his work cut out for him.
In his rookie campaign, the heir to the McNamara position did a marvelous job for head coach Jim Boeheim and inspired faithful fans to cheer on nature's candy.
Here is a recap of how Jonny Flynn became Syracuse's leader and best player last season.
Flynn was a decorated high school basketball player coming out of Niagara Falls, playing on USA's Nike Hoop Summit U-18 & U-19 Team, winning gold as part of the U-18 squad and silver as a member of the U-19 at the World Championships.
He also played in the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game before he began his freshman year at Syracuse.
Standing only 6'0", Flynn uses his wiry frame to elude backcourt traps and knife through defenders, effectively distributing the ball to his teammates.
His up-tempo style of play had several major effects on the Orange. With Flynn at the controls, Syracuse finished last season No. 1 in the Big East in team field goal percentage, second in free throw attempts, and second in scoring in the conference behind archenemy Notre Dame.
To further cement himself, Flynn finished third in the Big East in assists per game, topping fellow guards Scottie Reynolds of Villanova, Ronald Ramon of Pittsburgh, and Dominic James of Marquette.
Jonny's remarkable ball handling and ball control blend to persuasively complement his offensive game.
On the defensive side, Jonny is a pesky defender and is very active in the passing lanes, evidenced by ranking among the Big East's Top 15 in steals.
Flynn averaged 15.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.5 SPG on 45.9 percent FG shooting during the 2007-08 season.
Jonny shredded top Big East opponents Villanova, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette, and Connecticut, averaging 19.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3 RPG, and 2.6 SPG against this opposition.
However, season's end was bittersweet for Flynn, as his Orange failed to earn recognition by the Selection Committee, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament.
Despite the disappointing news, Jonny was honored as Co-Big East Freshman of the Year and led Syracuse to the quarterfinals of the NIT tournament before they were eliminated by UMass.
A large part of his production was placed upon former teammate SF/PF Donte Greene, who prematurely entered the 2008 NBA Draft and was chosen by the Houston Rockets in the first round.
With a supporting cast of Scoop Jardine, Paul Harris, highflyer Arinze Onuaku, and 2006-07 leading scorer Eric Devendorf finally recovering from a torn ACL, Flynn should be able to maintain his status as the top point guard in the Big East in the upcoming 2008-09 college basketball season.
The Syracuse Orange haven't seen a point guard this good since Gerry McNamara, and if Flynn decides to enter the 2009 NBA Draft, rest assured he will be a first round draftee.
I believe Jonny is the fourth best point guard in the country and has been under the radar for far too long.
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