Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House
Jabari Parker, Jabari Parker, Jabari Parker, Jabari Parker.
The sensational Duke freshman has been the biggest first-year story line in the ACC through the early part of the season and rightfully so. After a dazzling performance in a nationally televised season opener against Kansas, the Chicago native is averaging 22.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
But there’s another freshman a bit further north who has been equally as important to his team, even if the numbers aren’t as gaudy as Parker’s.
Get to know the name Tyler Ennis. And fast.
He has been in the spotlight before. He played with Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins on the amateur circuit, played high school ball at powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.), and now holds in his hands the reins to a Syracuse team that could very well win the ACC and even make a run to the Final Four.
And Ennis was the steady rock that No. 2 Syracuse needed on Sunday afternoon, outlasting a scrappy St. John’s team to escape with a 68-63 win at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
There are times when you think you need to check Ennis for a pulse. He’s so amazingly calm with the basketball in his hands, never changing his expression even when the defense tries to collapse on him and force a turnover.
He’ll rock you to sleep off the dribble, then hit the defense with a hesitation move that tangles ankles and opens up driving and passing lanes. He’ll finish at the basket through contact, step to the line, and hit big free throws to seal games. All of this as a freshman.
He had 21 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 mark from the free throw line in Syracuse’s win on Sunday.
What does it mean for Maryland? Well, good and bad.
The Terrapins won’t have to face Syracuse until Feb. 24, once coach Mark Turgeon's team begins to hit its stride down the stretch in ACC play. The bad news? The Terrapins don’t face Syracuse until Feb. 24, when Ennis will have had two more months of seasoning at the college level on top of the skills and understanding of the game that he already has.
It’s a double-edged sword.
Between now and then, keep an eye on Tyler Ennis. It will be worth your while.