NIT Season Tip-Off: 8 Things We Learned from the Preseason Tournament
We learned a number of things from the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The 11-day, eight-team tournament featured a perennial power in Syracuse, a young Oklahoma State squad, a Stanford team led by longtime Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins and two very good mid-major squads in Oral Roberts and George Mason.
The tournament concluded with a 69-63 Syracuse victory over Stanford.
Here is what we learned about this year's NIT Season Tip-Off participants...
Kris Joseph Is Syracuse's Go-to Guy
Kris Joseph has been a key contributor for Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange since his freshman season. He was rewarded before the season started as a preseason All-Big East performer.
Joseph is the leader of this Orange team and has had an impressive start to the season for Syracuse (5-0), a team with wins over Stanford and Virginia Tech.
In order for Syracuse to be a national title contender, the senior forward will have to take over games like he did against Stanford.
In the final minutes of Syracuse's come-from-behind win over Stanford in the NIT Season Tip-Off final, Joseph scored nine consecutive points. He followed this stretch up with a bank shot that ended any hope of the Cardinal pulling off an upset.
Erick Green Looks Like the Next Great Guard out of Tech
A big question coming into the season for Seth Greenberg and the Virginia Tech Hokies was who would fill Malcolm Delaney's shoes.
Erick Green may be ready to step up and be that player for the Hokies.
As a sophomore, Green had a suspect shot selection and was abysmal from behind the arc despite having good mechanics on his shot.
As a junior and one of the leaders on this Hokies squad, Green has a much better shot selection and has been relied on to play heavy minutes when need be.
Green played 36 minutes against Syracuse and 39 more a game later against Oklahoma State. This is a good sign for Seth Greenberg, who also leaned heavily on Malcolm Delaney to log a lot of minutes.
Gerardo Suero Can Pour It in
Albany didn't last long in the tournament field, but one of the most impressive players that we saw was Gerardo Suero.
Suero began the tournament by dropping 29 against Brown in Albany's win. The Great Danes then went on to face a perennial power in Syracuse. Despite losing by 24, Suero put up 31 points on Jim Boeheim's stingy defense.
Look for Suero to quietly make his way to the top of the country in scoring this season.
Stanford Could Find Themselves in the Upper Tier of Pac-12
Johnny Dawkins has his Stanford team playing very well.
In the NIT Season Tip-Off, the Cardinal upended a young, yet talented Oklahoma State team by 15. Two nights later in the championship game, Stanford kept the Syracuse offense in check until Kris Joseph was let loose, and the Cardinal fell to the Orange by a score of 69-63.
There is a lot to be happy about in Palo Alto, though. Coach Dawkins has gotten excellent guard play from two youngsters, Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle.
In the frontcourt, Josh Huestis and Josh Owens are undersized big men that have played very well this season.
In a season where the Pac-12 seems to be a tossup, Stanford could find themselves in position to steal a bid.
LeBryan Nash Is Not the Only Impact Freshman on Oklahoma State
There is a lot of attention being placed on LeBryan Nash in the Big 12. He is not the only impact freshman Oklahoma State has to offer, though.
Another spark that Travis Ford can turn to is Cezar Guerrero, a freshman out of California.
Guerrero will certainly show some inconsistencies throughout this season, but will no doubt learn from senior Keiton Page.
In Oklahoma State's overtime win over UTSA, Guerrero threw up 29 points and connected on eight three-pointers.
The Decreasing Role of Scoop Jardine?
Jim Boeheim benched Scoop Jardine in favor of Dion Waiters down the stretch in games against Virginia Tech and Stanford.
Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg noted that Waiters has a chance to be a very special player.
What does this say about Jardine? It remains to be seen, but his six turnovers against the Cardinal certainly didn't help.
Oral Roberts Will Be a Very Good Team This Season
Although Oral Roberts is on a four-game winning streak, don't let the 0-2 start to the season fool you. They are a very good team with a wealth of talent and experience.
The Golden Eagles feature five experienced players in Dominique Morrison, Steven Roundtree, Warren Niles, Roderick Pearson and Michael Craion.
Look for Morrison and Roundtree to emerge as two of the better mid-major players not only in the Summit League, but the country.
Talented Virginia Tech Backcourt
Seth Greenberg has himself quite the backcourt this season. It is true that he lost Malcolm Delaney, but players like Dorenzo Hudson and Erick Green are filling in nicely.
Together, Green and Hudson will form one of the ACC's most talented and experienced backcourts.
The Hokies also have two young guns in Jarell Eddie and Robert Brown, a four-star recruit from Chatham, VA.