At this point, it has finally sunk in to the Orange and its fans that Syracuse will not be participating in postseason play after an NCAA investigation on possible academic infractions by the school. The competitive nature of the season is lost but so is the pressure for the players. With games not meaning anything in the long-term, which players can use this as an opportunity to improve their game?
Ron Patterson – This is a pretty obvious one. Patterson has been bashed by Jim Boeheim as of late and has struggled to find his shooting stroke in limited minutes this year. Patterson is sure to get more playing time as the five starters simply cannot play entire games in the 2nd half of the season. The key for the transfer is to change up his offensive decision-making. Patterson has shot 17 percent from behind the arc and has only had one game with double-digit shooting this year. Boeheim has already said publicly how he will take Patterson out if he attempts a three-pointer. Patterson can handle the ball better than most of the team. Penetrating the paint is crucial for Patterson to be a serviceable part of the struggling offense.
Rakeem Christmas – Nobody got it worse when the post-season ban was announced than Rakeem Christmas. The senior is the leading scorer on the team and has to go out on a sour note after playing in the Final Four not too long ago. However, Christmas has some draft stock that will change in the coming months depending on how he plays. Most sites currently have Christmas being drafted in the 2nd round. The Orange will be up against very tough competition when they face teams like Duke, Notre Dame and Virginia, including what should be a fun match-up between Christmas and the potential first pick in the draft, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.
Kaleb Joseph – Joseph was dealt a bad hand coming into this season. The freshman expected to sit behind Tyler Ennis for at least a year to adjust to the zone but things took a turn when Ennis declared for the draft, leaving incoming Joseph the starting point guard in his first year. Joseph has looked like exactly what he is: a freshman. He has shown signs of potential at times but is only averaging 6 points and 4 assists a game this season. This is a great opportunity for Joseph to start taking some chances penetrating the paint and improve on finishing at the rim.
The Orange will be trying to play spoiler for many of its remaining games. Patterson, Christmas, and Joseph can use these games as a chance to impress coaches and scouts.
Posted: Zephan Mayell