By now Hakim Warrick should have become accustomed to
second-class treatment. As a senior at Friends Central in
Wynnewood, Pa., three years ago he had to wait until New York
City blue-chipper Julius Hodge chose N.C. State over Syracuse
before the Orangemen would give Warrick a scholarship. And last
summer he was one of the final cuts from the U.S. team for the
Pan Am Games. "That was a big letdown," says Warrick, a 6'8",
209-pound junior forward. "It took me off guard. I know I played
well, but I guess they wanted more bulk. But it was the turning
point of my summer. It got me to turn my workouts up a notch."
With the early departure for the NBA of Carmelo Anthony, who was
Syracuse's go-to guy and the NCAA tournament MVP, Warrick has the
opportunity to become the main man, the first scoring option on
the team. "Hakim's going to get a chance to make a real impact
this year," says coach Jim Boeheim. Warrick, the team's
second-leading scorer last season, doesn't have Anthony's
transcendent offensive gifts, but he has a multifaceted game that
can confound opponents. He'll circle the key looking for a spot
to get off his soft jumper--"I study guys like [Tracy] McGrady
and [Kevin] Garnett, the way they move without the ball," he
says--or he'll attack the rim and use the leaping ability that
produced 80 dunks last season. On defense the long-limbed Warrick
has a knack for making the big play. None was bigger than his
rush from the foul line to the corner to make a last-minute block
of Kansas guard Michael Lee's three-point attempt, preserving
Syracuse's 81-78 victory in the national title game.
Playing the spindly Warrick at power forward is not Boeheim's
only unorthodox move. He's also going to start three
playmakers--sophomore guards Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin, and
junior small forward Josh Pace (Anthony's replacement in the
lineup)--to increase ball movement and allow the Orangemen to run
more. "We're unselfish and have a lot of ability," says McNamara.
"When you combine the two, you usually have a pretty fun year."
Says Warrick, "No one is looking to replace Carmelo's numbers [by
himself], but we want to show that we still have a great
team." --John O'Keefe
COLOR PHOTO: BRIAN SPURLOCK CIRCLE GAME Ever on the move at the offensive end, Warrick can pop from outside or go to the hoop for a smashing dunk.
2002-03 RECORD: 30-5 (13-3, 1st in Big East West)
TOURNAMENT: NCAA champions
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Josh Pace 6'6" Jr. 52.5 FG%
PF Hakim Warrick 6'8" Jr. 14.8 ppg
C Craig Forth 7'0" Jr. 1.2 bpg
SG Gerry McNamara 6'2" Soph. 13.3 ppg
PG Billy Edelin 6'4" Soph. 9.0 ppg
an opposing coach's view
"These guys are going to have to learn to play and get their shots
without Carmelo Anthony, who made everyone better.... Opposing
teams know how to attack Syracuse's 2-3 zone, they're just not
comfortable playing against it.... Outside of GERRY MCNAMARA,
they don't have anyone who's an established outside shooter.
McNamara has big-time guts; he reminds me of a young Scott
Skiles.... You have to make BILLY EDELIN shoot the ball [from the
outside]. He's as good a one-on-one player as I've seen.... I've
heard JIM BOEHEIM compare freshman forward TERRENCE ROBERTS with
a young Derrick Coleman. He's a rangy, 6'9" lefty who'll play a
School record for free throw percentage in a season (90 for 99),
set by freshman guard Gerry McNamara in 2002-03.