Andrew White III’s arrival to the Orange brings plenty of excitement for the upcoming season. However, the Nebraska transfer also makes Jim Boeheim’s life a lot harder. With so much depth and so many close positional battles, the Hall of Fame coach has plenty of tough decisions to make before the team opens its campaign on November 11 against Colgate. With a team that, realistically, goes 10 players deep, it’s highly unlikely Boeheim rolls out the same starting five for every game like he did last year.
This is what will keep Boeheim up at night. Franklin Howard is the lone returning guard, which may be the biggest advantage that lands him a starting job. Howard has played meaningful minutes and knows the zone. It’ll be interesting to see how Boeheim manages size at the position. He can go small with the 6’0 graduate transfer John Gillon, or he can go vertical and take the 6’6 freshman Tyus Battle. Ultimately, experience could determine the second spot which gives the heavy edge to Gillon. But if Battle progresses like he should, the New Jersey native will challenge Gillon and Howard for a starting spot.
This is the deepest part of the rotation with three spots for seven guys. Like the guards, the layout hinges on how Boeheim tinkers with height. White should have a safe spot in the starting five at the three. Tyler Lydon is the Orange’s best returning player and is a lock for a starting job, but the question is at what position? He has experience at both the four and five. If Boeheim wants to model after the Golden State Warriors “Death Lineup,” Lydon is slotted at center for a “small ball” approach. If not, putting Lydon at the four opens up a world of possibility. Last season, Dajuan Coleman start every game, but more so as a formality since he usually played five minutes or less before being replaced. Coleman could see the same drill and get replaced by Tyler Roberson or Paschal Chukwu early in games, but it seems more reasonable to capitalize on Roberson’s early game energy and rebounding. It’s unlikely Matthew Moyer or Taurean Thompson crack the starting lineup given all the experience and talent ahead of them, but the freshman are valuable bench pieces that will find the court this season.
Projected starting five: Howard, Gillon, White III, Lydon Roberson