Three of Syracuse’s incoming freshmen took part in the Jordan Brand Classic last weekend. Tyler Ennis, Tyler Roberson and Chinonso Obokoh showed off their skills and are looking ahead to their next chapter on the Hill. These will be a trio of faces that bring a large part of the youth movement to SU.
So it’s time for The Fizz to start looking at the possible starting lineup scenarios for next season. Syracuse will lose key starters in Michael Carter-Williams, who will head to the NBA, and senior Brandon Triche. The Orange also will be without sharp shooter James Southerland because of graduation as well. So what role these incoming freshmen will have on next year’s team?
It might not quite be a Michigan Fab Five type of impact, but the youth of this team may dictate whether the Orange season is a success or a bust. Jim Boeheim’s options at both guard positions are very much in the air. Trevor Cooney was believed to be a three-point shooting machine for Syracuse, but showed no consistency last season. When he was given the minutes in the Big East tournament against Georgetown, Cooney showed he has talent. But he has a ways to go before he earns trust in the starting lineup.
Then there is Ennis. As discussed on last week’s Fizz Radio, Ennis could be the next big deal in Syracuse. He is quick on both sides of the ball, and regarded as one of the best point guards in the nation. Ennis is mature, and most people believe he will accept whatever role he is given. Last season, MCW wasn’t so pleased with sitting on the bench behind Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters. Even if Ennis doesn’t start, he will be a solid option for Boeheim at the top of that 2-3 zone. But most signs point to him running the point for the Orange right from the start next season.
If the starting backcourt is Ennis and Cooney, there’s not much experience there. But there’s not many options for JB. SU will also have shooting guard Ron Patterson coming in as a freshman, and Duke transfer Michael Gbinije is a transfer guard/forward tweener. The frontcourt at least will have some experience, especially if C.J. Fair stays. Rak Christmas, Dajuan Coleman and Baye Keita will all be back. Gbinije may play forward, and Roberson and Obokoh come in to add some depth.
While this huge dependence on new faces may leave many SU fans queasy, it could actually be a boon for the Orange. Each of the incoming class are athletic, and can get out and run. If Ennis ends up being a solid distributer at the point, the fast break and transition game may become a huge strength. It’s also possible the new class is hungry to put their own stamp on the program, and bring an exuberance and energy that only youth can bring.
Boeheim has always allowed his teams to look for buckets downfloor after turnovers with the 2-3 zone, but maybe we’ll see a more up-tempo squad with this much youth and speed. Then again, if the strong suit of the team becomes the frontline of Rak, DC 2.0 and Fair, then maybe it’s all about Ennis dumping it down low and watching those guys go to work.
Either way there will be a whole new set of options for Boeheim. It remains to be seen whether that’s a good problem to have, or a bad one.
Posted: Austin Pollack