A familiar face kicked off the 2012-13 Syracuse basketball season when former point guard Scoop Jardine, who helped lead the Orange to 34 wins and the Elite Eight a year ago, co-hosted the team's Orange Madness event.
The men's and women's teams started their seasons with the event held Friday night in the Carrier Dome. The night featured player introductions, scrimmages, a dunk contest and performances by rapper Wale. Tickets for the event were sold out.
Earlier Friday, the teams hosted their annual media days.
Syracuse lost four key contributors in Jardine, small forward Kris Joseph, guard Dion Waiters and center Fab Melo and several players will have to step into bigger roles this season.
Coach Jim Boeheim said his team is well prepared coming off a strong preseason.
"I think these guys have worked as hard as they can and are as ready individually as they can be," Boeheim said. "As far as what kind of team they can be, there's no way of knowing that at this stage."
Boeheim said he expects veteran guard Brandon Triche to have a big season, and he's looking forward to seeing the continued development of sophomore Michael Carter-Williams.
Carter-Williams will step into the backcourt to replace Jardine, who co-hosted the event with Syracuse student Jasmine Jordan, daughter of legendary Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan. Jardine received a warm welcome from the crowd, hearing chants of his name as he did during his playing days.
After the players were introduced, the fans got a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming season in a scrimmage. It featured several highlight-reel dunks and some sharpshooting by guard Trevor Cooney, who hit three 3-pointers.
"I'm excited. It's the same every year," Boeheim said. "It's the same level of excitement, anticipation.
"We have to get through this day and then the fun starts tomorrow. We get to practice and get to work with these guys."
Boeheim entered the court in a U.S. army vehicle and was joined by soldiers from Fort Drum military base. Boeheim showed the crowd his gold medal from this past summer at London Olympics, where he served as an assistant coach for the U.S. team, and thanked the soldiers for their service before the scrimmage began.
The anticipation from the crowd reached one of its high points during the dunk contest. The final event of the night included Cooney, Triche, James Southerland, Duke transfer Michael Gbinije and women's team freshman Brittney Sykes.
Sykes was the last to go, generating excitement from her teammates and the fans. The 5-foot-9 Sykes, a McDonald's All-America, attempted to dunk multiple times, but she struggled to get to the rim and fell short on each attempt.
The men's team opens its season on Nov. 9 against San Diego State in the Battle on the Midway in San Diego, Calif.