In the middle: OCC standout Barber settles into new role in loaded Orange offense after transfer

first_imgThis is placeholder text Advertisement Facebook Twitter Google+ When Tim Barber committed to Syracuse three weeks before the fall semester, John Desko posed one question.“We had so many guys back and almost questioned him coming in,” Desko, the SU head coach, said. “You know, where was he going to fit?”The reigning junior college offensive player of the year didn’t have a place in a Syracuse offense that was already returning 75 percent of its scoring from the year before.With attacks Kevin Rice, Randy Staats and Dylan Donahue all sliding right back into their starting spots, Barber — who totaled 91 points last year, 11 more than any SU player — would no longer be the go-to weapon on offense he was at Onondaga Community College. He probably wouldn’t be the second option for SU. And maybe not even the third.That may still be the case, but Barber’s preseason exploits have given Desko a much better idea of where he’ll fit. He may even find himself on the first line of a jam-packed midfield unit, Desko has hinted. Though he won’t be the primary option to produce goals, Barber has found himself a prominent spot that was once far from solidified.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The way he’s picked up the offense so quickly,” Rice said. “… He was only here for a couple of weeks before he really had a hang of our offense and it’s kind of complex with all the off-ball movement. I thought he fit in seamlessly.”Though he committed to SU before the start of fall 2014 semester, Barber had no issue becoming acclimated.Desko said it was unusual how quickly Barber picked up the offense, something his high lacrosse IQ enabled him to do. He’s meshed with the trio he’ll be linking up with, which has been aided by a cohesiveness that’s been years in the works.Barber first met Donahue in sixth grade, when the two would play catch at their brothers’ high school games in nearby Camillus, New York. Rice, another local product, has seen Barber play, and vice versa. And Staats, a fellow OCC transfer, played with Barber for a full year before transferring to SU himself before the 2014 season.It’s those three that have relegated Barber into a lesser role than he’s used to, but also those three that will enable him to be that much more effective.“Being out of the spotlight and not as high expectations is definitely easier,” Barber said. “Just going out there and knowing there’s guys around you who can perform just as well makes it more comfortable out there on the field.”At West Genesee (New York) High School, Barber played both midfield and attack, his father, Don Barber, said. OCC head coach Chuck Wilbur also noted that while Barber was mainly a midfielder for the Lazers, he played a little bit up front as well.As an attacking midfielder, Barber can integrate aspects of both positions. In the midfield, he can showcase the dodging ability and skill with both hands that Desko said he possesses. When in the attack, he can create opportunities.“He’s good at picking and choosing when to go to the goal,” said Ryan Barber, his brother and an SU midfielder from 2009-13. “That’s definitely beneficial to him whether he’s playing midfield or attack.”In an exhibition against Hofstra on Jan. 24, Barber carried a defender on his left shoulder as he dashed toward the goal. Instead of making his own attempt on net, he passed across his body to an open Rice, who put the ball home from the doorstep.The play was a microcosm of the new role Barber has adapted to already, one in which he has the freedom to create chances on goal but also All-American options to distribute to so he doesn’t have to carry the load himself.Barber said Desko has given him somewhat of a green light to attack.“But at the same time you have three guys on attack in Rice, Donahue and Staats that are more so taking the ball to the cage,” Barber said.Staats used the word “lethal” to describe the effect Barber will have. Wilbur said his former star has come out “gangbusters” with the Orange. The words used to describe Barber’s game haven’t changed, even though his jersey has.He still possesses the same explosiveness he did a year ago, although it may not always be on display in the form of goals and assists on the Carrier Dome scoreboard.And though his role is different and the spotlight won’t be shining as bright, Barber has set himself up to be an integral piece of the machine that is the Syracuse offense.“There’s no need for me to be the prime guy to attack from the midfield,” Barber said. “That’s fine with me.” Comments Published on February 5, 2015 at 8:11 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.last_img read more