Gbinije leads Syracuse past Long Beach State, gives Orange offense much-needed 3rd option as conference play nears

September 17, 2020

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm Contact Jesse: | @dougherty_jesse Michael Gbinije watched from the corner as a Tyler Roberson jump shot arced toward the net.Then Gbinije instinctively took two long strides toward the hoop and leapt for a rebound that bounced into his waiting hands. Next came an emphatic putback dunk that lit up the Carrier Dome crowd and left Gbinije hanging on the rim, his legs dangling like Long Beach State’s hot start.Syracuse was in the middle of a 13-2 first-half run and Gbinije was foreshadowing a game-long theme: Whenever the Orange heated up, its combo forward was the one lighting the flame.“Stuff like that just happens once in a blue moon,” Gbinije said. “I was feeling an adrenaline rush and the ball came off in a place where I could get it. It’s just a combination of luck and coincidence.”In all, Gbinije tallied a career-high 24 points and was the catalyst of what SU head coach Jim Boeheim called his team’s best offensive performance of the season. The Orange (8-4) beat the 49ers (5-9) 85-67 on Sunday in front of 22,508 fans, and Gbinije rounded out his performance with four 3s on six attempts, six rebounds and eight assists.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“They were leaving Mike, they did a little bit like St. John’s did (on Dec. 6) by coming back and helping inside,” Boeheim said. “And he made them pay. He can make that shot and it makes us a different team when he scores in those situations when he’s getting open shots.“I thought he was great today.”Long Beach State’s quick ball movement and sharp shooting created frustration early on. SU head coach Jim Boeheim screamed at point guard Kaleb Joseph before taking him out 1:29 into the game, and Ron Patterson didn’t last much longer as his replacement.LBSU guard Mike Caffey missed a layup on the break and David Samuels swooped in to tip it in. SU guard Trevor Cooney threw his hands in the air in frustration and looked up at the scoreboard. It read 14-4 in favor of the visitors.But then Gbinije got going and the Orange offense followed.After the putback dunk, Gbinije assisted on two Cooney 3s while hitting one of his own, which helped SU erase an early deficit and head into halftime with a 44-40 lead.“That’s what he does,” Cooney said. “He does it in practice all of the time and he has confidence in himself to come out and do it in games.”Gbinije provided more of the same in the second half, going on two 5-0 runs of his own to kickstart the Orange’s victory lap.It was a flurry of assists — including a pair of alley-oops to Rakeem Christmas — that ultimately buried Long Beach State, as Gbinije’s ball-handling and court vision replaced his long-range shooting as the game wound down.And aside from carving up a 49ers team that has beaten Kansas State and Xavier and lost close games to No. 9 Texas, San Diego State and No. 13 Washington, Gbinije shed light on Syracuse’s offensive potential.In SU’s 69-57 loss to St. John’s, the Red Storm took away Christmas and Cooney and dared other players to beat them from beyond the arc. The Orange shot 3-for-22 from 3 and didn’t receive enough production from its other perimeter threats. Gbinije had 13 points in that game, but Boeheim said that SU needed a shooter aside from Cooney to beat good teams.The 49ers came out with a near-identical defensive mindset, doubling Christmas in the post and blanketing Cooney off the ball and around screens. It opened the door for Gbinije, who hit 2-of-3 3s in the first half and then two more in the second. And when Long Beach State defenders closed out too hard, he put the ball on the floor before finding an open teammate or finishing at the rim.Syracuse made 30 field goals in the game and Gbinije had a hand in 18 of them. The Orange scored its most points since it beat Kennesaw State on opening night on Nov. 14, and it wasn’t a coincidence that its most versatile offensive player never left the floor.“When he’s scoring it really opens up opportunities for other guys because he’s a really unselfish player,” Joseph said. “And when he’s playing the way he is I think it gives other guys confidence, too.” Commentslast_img

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