Even though Syracuse is tasked with replacing four starters from a season ago, Jim Boeheim seems confident in his young squad. A main reason is because of the sheer quantity of shooters Boeheim and his staff have accumulated. Of course Buddy Boeheim may be the first guy fans think of. Joe Girard is another guard who oozes potential. Fellow freshman Brycen Goodine has underrated range and seems to get overlooked even though he was the top recruit in SU’s class.
While Boeheim’s squad now boast a skill set that was severely lacking a season ago, the most important member of Syracuse is big man Bourama Sidibe. Over Sidibe’s first couple years in central New York, he’s been plagued by injury. His freshman year he showed flashes of what he could be – an offensively skilled center who gave SU a weapon in the paint.
But last season Sidibe digressed and played just over 10 minutes per game while sitting out of five contests. If he struggles to stay healthy again this season, there’s no Paschal Chukwu for Boeheim to turn to. Instead, Syracuse’s bench consists of true freshmen Jesse Edwards and John Bol Ajak. While fans may be hoping to see Marek Dolezaj at center, last season Boeheim said he couldn’t play Dolezaj for more than 10 minutes at the five due to his lack of weight. But Sidibe is only 205 pounds, much smaller than some of the center’s he’ll face in the ACC.
If Sidibe is able to stay healthy, the role of the other bigs won’t be as important. And as noted earlier this offseason, Sidibe is playing pain-free for the first time in Orange. The question now is if he can remain healthy for the whole season, or will the injury bug come back to bite him.
If it does, no matter how much shooting the Orange have, teams may begin to manhandle them. Bigs that can out-rebound a Sidibe-less Syracuse and control the paint could damper SU’s season, and even its March Madness hopes.