Forkin shows potential for Syracuse after transitioning from midfield to attack

first_img Published on February 11, 2015 at 12:16 am Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ J.T. Forkin received a pass 5 yards behind the goal, and 15 yards to the left of it. He cradled the stick with his left hand, ran a semi-circle around the goal, leapt and rifled the ball into the top-left corner while drawing contact.It was the redshirt freshman’s first career goal — albeit to put Syracuse up 12 against Siena in garbage time — but one that showcased what he has in his back pocket as a converted attack.Forkin transitioned to Syracuse’s attack from midfield in the offseason after a conversation with assistant coach Kevin Donahue before fall practice began. He’s already impressed at his new position, logging two goals and an assist in No. 4 SU’s (1-0) 21-7 win over Siena on Saturday, and he continues to blossom at the position while taking note of the tendencies of starting attacks Kevin Rice, Randy Staats and Dylan Donahue.“We have one of the top attack lines in the country,” Forkin said. “I’m just learning so much from all three of those guys and really trying to improve my game based on what they do.”At Long Beach (New York) High School, Forkin was named the Nassau County Attackman of the Year in his senior season after scoring 57 goals. When he came to SU, he found himself caught on the back end of a crowded midfield unit and was uncomfortable at the position, Rice said, so Forkin decided to redshirt. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe practiced primarily at midfielder in his first year, but started playing as an attack on the scout team toward the end of the season. In the offseason, Forkin knew he had to get quicker if he wanted to play on the attack for good. He emphasized improving his change of direction on the field, and also harped on strengthening his stick skills with his right hand since he’s a natural lefty.Forkin still plays on the scout team in his second year with the Orange, but has impressed the coaching staff beyond just the practice field.With four minutes left in Saturday’s game and the Orange up 19-7, Forkin received a pass 5 yards to the right of the goal with Saints defender Max Bonsall coming at him hard. Forkin deftly spun away from pressure, sent Bonsall flying and calmly slotted the ball in the bottom-left corner.“He’s not 6-foot-3, he’s probably 5-foot-9-ish, so it’s hard for defenders to get their hands on his hips and get him out,” SU head coach John Desko said. “He’s got a nose for the goal and he’s playing very well.”On Saturday, Forkin, sophomore Jeff Desko and redshirt freshman Matt Lane composed the second-line attack and got plenty of playing time in a game that was decided early.The other two combined for a single assist, as Forkin made his case to be the next man up down the road after Rice, Staats and Donahue.“Hopefully next time I get an opportunity I have another good showing,” Forkin said. “Down the line it might come my time.”Though the first three is set in stone, Desko said Forkin could very well be the next in line simply based on his ability to dodge. Rice added that if someone on the first line gets hurt, Forkin’s chance could very well present itself.And while Desko said Forkin would still need to learn all the different offenses to be that fourth option on the attack, the package that Forkin’s already displayed has him primed to do so.Said Rice: “He’s going to be a guy for the future to keep an eye on, for sure.” Commentslast_img read more

NBA Draft: Michael Gbinije tries to answer the questions he faces coming out of Syracuse

first_imgMichael Gbinije had prepared for the moment. He’d heard the whispers from other guys who had already been through Boston. He’d run more than normal on the treadmill. He knew the Boston Celtics worked their prospects hard before making them compete in one final conditioning drill.In the afternoon on May 21, the former Syracuse point guard felt good when he found himself at the end line of the Celtics practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, ready to run as many sprints as he could in three minutes.“It’s competitive,” Gbinije said. “You’ve got the front office people watching, the coaches watching. Regardless of how you played in (the scrimmages) before, you have one last chance. … I wanted nothing left in the tank leaving the workout.”Twenty-seven times he made it up and down the court. There were a handful of prospects there and Gbinije said he was bested only by former Louisville guard Damion Lee, who managed 29.Gbinije eventually completed the same drill for the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers. By the time the NBA Draft starts on Thursday at 8 p.m., Gbinije will have worked out for 15 teams. Those teams combine to hold every pick from No. 27 to No. 47, among others. That range corresponds with most mock drafts, which project him in the late-first or mid-second round.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textKiran Ramsey | Web DesignerBy then, he’ll have finished all his preparation: Studying an NBA superstar, working out with a famous trainer and answering all the questions front offices have for a fifth-year senior who took longer than most to figure out his best position on the floor. And the school at which he could play it. And at a program with an unusual brand of defense.“The first question every team asks is, ‘Can he guard man-to-man?’” said Frank Gbinije, Michael’s father. “And obviously he’s showed that he can, in AAU, at Duke and on the Nigeria national team. … Quite frankly, he would prefer man-to-man (to zone) because he wants to chase the ball.”That’s a question that’s stalked many Syracuse players after leaving the Orange’s signature 2-3 zone. But what that man-to-man question really means, multiple people said, is: Does he have enough speed for NBA point guards? The size for small forwards?There are more questions surrounding Gbinije because of his lack of stability. He started at Duke, then transferred to Syracuse and sat out a season. He didn’t get much playing time his first year in orange then found some consistency as a forward — only to shift from the wing and reinvent himself as a point guard for his last season.All that change leaves most scouting reports with the basic information spun different ways: He recently turned 24. It’s too late to develop him. Or, he’s primed to be a low-maintenance contributor on a win-now team.He is 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds. That’s too small for forward or too slow for guard. Or, his frame and skillset fit perfectly into an NBA trending toward smaller lineups when he could handle the ball at forward. He is ‘fundamentally sound,’ in many reports. He has a low ceiling because he is decent everywhere but excels nowhere. Or, that shows intelligence, versatility and potential upside when given a role.Gbinije’s assets are known. What he’ll do with them is not.MORE COVERAGE:NBA Draft: The case for picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case against picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case for picking Malachi RichardsonNBA Draft: The case against picking Malachi RichardsonOn the beat: NBA Draft preview and a look ahead to the 2016-17 Syracuse basketball season Related Stories On the beat: NBA Draft preview and a look ahead to the 2016-17 Syracuse basketball seasonNBA Draft: The case against picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case for picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case against picking Malachi RichardsonNBA Draft: The case for picking Malachi Richardson Published on June 21, 2016 at 11:53 am Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR The search for answers started immediately. After a two-week break following the Final Four to finish school, he flew from Syracuse to Los Angeles. There, he worked out with NBA trainer Rob McClanaghan, a former SU basketball walk-on who has worked with stars Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.They worked on shooting, another question from NBA teams. Gbinije shot 46.1 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from 3-point range in the last two seasons, but teams want to know if he’s a good enough pure shooter for that to translate.McClanaghan emphasized to Gbinije over six weeks the ability to adapt to the NBA game. When he wasn’t jetting around the country to team workouts, Gbinije spent about five days per week in high-intensity, 75-minute workouts: Shooting more from the new 3-point line off the catch and dribble, changing pace while handling the ball and maneuvering in the post.“I knew he was a good athlete, but he’s a sneaky athlete,” McClanaghan said. “He’ll creep up and dunk on you. I didn’t know he had that in him, but he definitely does. He’s very consistent. (NBA teams) will know what they’re getting.”“An attractive second-round gamble,” wrote Jonathan Wasserman on Bleacher Report.“He’ll be in the league a long time,” McClanaghan said.“There’s certainly a future for him overseas,” wrote Tajh Jenkins on NBADraft.net.“I’m a competitive, learning basketball player,” Gbinije said.He said he pitches himself to teams as someone who can make adjustments quickly, like that point guard switch. NBA teams have tried him out on and off the ball. Once he has a team, then Gbinije said he’ll adapt to the position they want him in.Daily Orange File PhotoHe likes learning, even from afar by watching, like he did with Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant.On May 6, the Thunder lost a late lead at home to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite playing nearly 42 minutes and the game ending around 11 p.m. local time, Durant arrived at Mahogany Steakhouse downtown not long after with his teammate Nazr Mohammed.Durant and Gbinije share the same agent at Roc Nation and said hello, but not much more. The Thunder superstar and Mohammed talked about the loss most of the night.“I was observing, seeing how he interacts with people, watching how he plays the game,” Gbinije said. “(Durant) doesn’t get tired. I came in on a flight, went to the game and then we were at (the steakhouse) until 2 a.m. Me and my agent were tired and this guy just played a full-out game, and he just had energy. That stood out to me.”He soaked up information from others, working out with and against projected lottery picks like Marquette’s Henry Ellenson and NBA players Jerami Grant and Ray McCallum. Gbinije played “very solid” against that level of competition, according to McClanaghan.After weeks of interviews and workouts, and years of playing in high-profile college games, Gbinije is ready to stop telling teams what he can do and start showing them.“Whatever (teams) don’t know about me,” Gbinije said. “They’re going to find out.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more