Syracuse players learned of the coaching change in obscurity after the game. Now Adrian Autry must assemble his team

Syracuse players learned of the coaching change in obscurity after the game.  Now Adrian Autry must assemble his team
Syracuse players learned of the coaching change in obscurity after the game.  Now Adrian Autry must assemble his team

Greensboro, NC – The immediate aftermath of a difficult transition from Jim Boeheim to Adrian Autry was filled with anxious texts and phone calls, with parents and players and Syracuse’s new head basketball coach trying to solidify what comes next.

The end of a college basketball season in the modern transfer portal era was already a frantic battle to determine which players would return and which would seek their fortunes at another program.

This year, that process was complicated by a final group of players who could benefit from an extra year of college basketball afforded by the Covid crisis. Would Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard return for one last orange hurray?

Throw into that maelstrom the sudden wedge of a new Syracuse head basketball coach, and Wednesday made for anxious hours for people whose lives were most affected by the transition.

After Jim Boeheim’s postgame comments, his players were left to digest the confusing narrative that emerged from the thrilling 15 minutes. Boeheim at some point relatively shortly after the news conference bombshell told his players that he would retire and that Autry would be SU’s next head coach, according to multiple sources.

What follows, over the next few days, will shape what Syracuse’s roster looks like next season.

There will be meetings and conversations between players, parents and Autry to find out what the new coach has planned for them and for his team. These talks began on Wednesday on a preliminary basis. They will continue.

Autry will be introduced as Syracuse’s new head basketball coach at a news conference Friday morning.

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The transfer portal opens on Monday. Syracuse will likely dip into the reservoir in some capacity.

In the Orange locker room, Edwards and Girard were asked if the coaching change would affect their 2023-24 destinations and how long they might need to decide if they would return.

At that point, it would be a few more hours before Syracuse University issued its statement officially declaring Autry as its new basketball coach.

The game ended at 2 p.m. SU released the Autry news just after 17.00

“Obviously it matters who the coach is, so you care. But I wouldn’t say too much,” Edwards said. “You make the decision for yourself and your university, where you want to play. I definitely care, but we’ll see. Gotta wait.”

“I have no idea, quite frankly. I haven’t even talked to my family about it yet. We’ll figure it out, Girard said. “We have to have our meetings with coaches, figure it out from there.”

For Syracuse’s underclassmen, the same decisions emerged.

Benny Williams, after a bumpy sophomore season that culminated in the game of his life in the ACC Tournament, said he needed some time to consider what would happen next.

“I have to talk to my dad and just make a decision,” he said. “At this point, I’m a Syracuse Orange man. I just have to have that conversation with my dad. And then we’ll see what happens.”

Quadir Copeland, who came off the bench to provide a spark of energy this season, sat next to John Bol Ajak, both quietly absorbing the thought that their coach has just announced his retirement.

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They were just as confused as the rest of us about what would happen next.

“I love my coaching staff, I love Coach. So whether he’s here or not, I’m going to be here,” Copeland said. “I love Coach Red, I love Coach GMac, I love Coach Griff. So I know it’s going to be in good hands.”


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