1: Frank Howard is going to have a very solid season
Howard was given the keys to the Syracuse offense as a sophomore last season and frankly never got the car started. However, it’s important to remember he was still very young last year. Sometimes we put these college kids on a pedestal and forgot just how much each and every college athlete improves over the course of one offseason. It’s normal to be disappointing while you’re an underclassmen and it’s slightly abnormal to expect a sophomore to lead your offense. I’m not saying Howard didn’t underachieve expectations last season. I just think the expectations were slightly too high. He was fighting for his job with John Gillon throughout non-conference play and that had to get to him a little. I mean it’s hard to play your best basketball with the constant threat of being benched or losing your job from one bad turnover. This year, the job is more clearly his to lose at the beginning of the season. The junior knows Boeheim’s system better than anyone else on the roster. He started to show flashes at the end of last season and has been putting in the work during the offseason. The Scoop Jardine like comeback is a real thing. College athletes get dramatically better from year to year. I expect Howard to be another example of that.
2: Oshae Brissett is going to finish second on the team in scoring
After last Friday night’s Orange v. White game this really isn’t that bold of a prediction. Brissett might find himself in Boeheim’s dog house after some freshmen turnovers early this season, but at the end of the day, he’s simply going to get his. The 6’8 freshman can use his long frame to score inside and his smooth touch to give SU a needed boost in the three-point department. He might not start on opening night, but Brissett is the most talented player on this team behind Tyus Battle and he is going to turn some heads this season. When it’s all said and done, the Canadian prospect will put up numbers that could be strong enough to get him a first team spot on the All-ACC freshmen team.
3: SU is going to lose 5 games before ACC Play
I hate to be a pessimist but Syracuse is probably going to struggle out of the gates again. At first glance, SU appears to have very few games on its non conference schedule that could trip them up. A neutral site matchup vs Kansas and home meeting with Maryland stick out. But, it’s important to remember this Orange team is really, really young and it’s going to take them some time to figure things out. Boeheim’s bunch will pick up three easy victories to start the season but then they’re going to hit a rout for the next month or so. Oakland on November 20th has upset written all over it. The Grizzlies are an improved horizon league team that is not going to be an easy win. After that, Syracuse should get past Toledo but then it has a three game stretch that includes Maryland and neutral site games against Kansas and UCONN. I don’t think SU is going to lose all three of those games and I’m not saying it’s going to be a disastrous season. However, this young Syracuse team is going to need some time to grow and mature.
4: The Orange will end the season on a high note
Alright, enough with the pessimism, after the initial growing pains, this team should be solid. SU might lack depth and front court scoring, but it has enough guard play and talent to go dancing this year. Geno Thorpe might not be Andrew White but the grad-transfer is going to gain a lot of Orange fans this season. Meanwhile, first year contributors Brissett, Bourama Sidibe and Matt Moyer are all going to get progressively better as the year rolls on. SU will drop back to back games vs North Carolina and at Duke in late February before rounding out a solid ACC season with wins at Boston College and vs Clemson on senior night. From there, the Orange will likely need to add the program’s first ACC tournament win to propel its bubble resume into the big dance.