The term destiny was thrown around a lot this season. Syracuse won a program record 25 games to begin the year. It was ranked no. 1 or no. 2 in the top 25 polls for 13 consecutive weeks. And the kid named Tyler Ennis could seemingly do no wrong.
Then destiny was finally defeated by Dayton in the Round of 32 on Saturday. Syracuse simply couldn’t find a way to put the basketball in the hoop. Syracuse’s 68 PPG it averaged this season was the lowest in 51 years. Orange Nation would imagine there’s no place to go but up. But who’s going to score next year?
The Orange already loses nearly 17 point per game with CJ Fair’s graduation. Baye Keita wasn’t an offensive threat, but he’s gone as well. Let’s say that Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis both declare for the draft and leave as well. Syracuse would lose nearly two-thirds of its offense. All that’s left over is about 25 points per contest, headed by redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney.
Granted, Syracuse does have high school star Chris McCullough coming in for next season. The 6’9” forward has had a tremendous season for IMG Academy, and his classmate, guard Kaleb Joseph, has also played good basketball. If Grant and Ennis both declare, he could be relied upon for some serious buckets as a freshman. Let’s take a look at Syracuse’s most likely scoring threats in 2014-2015.
Trevor Cooney R-JR 2013-14 PPG: 12.2
Cooney started the season pushing Matt Roe’s single-season Orange mark for best three-point percentage. That mission ended swiftly as Cooney finished the year shooting sub-40 percent from downtown, and just 41 percent from the field. Cooney was the biggest scoring mystery. He went ice cold in February and much of conference play and couldn’t get a consistent stroke. Cooney is a spot-up shooter, and didn’t play too much point. If Ennis goes, Cooney may be asked to create his own shot next year and have the ball in his hands more often. He’ll need to ready to handle that task and take more mid range jumpers like Boeheim had asked of him.
Michael Gbinije R-JR 2013-14 PPG: 3.4
As the season progressed, Gbinije became a more aggressive scorer. He might have realized, “If no one else is scoring, why don’t I try getting in the mix?” The transfer proved he could hit from beyond the arc pretty consistently, and against Western Michigan in the NCAA tournament, showed perhaps his best ability to get to the rim all season. He needs to be more aggressive when looking for his shot next year, and could become a better leader on the floor.
Tyler Roberson SO 2013-14 PPG: 2.1
His size is comparable to Jerami Grant’s, but his confidence was not at the same level as the lanky sophomore forward. Boeheim stated numerous times this season that Roberson was having trouble with not only learning the offense, but the defense as well. But what can you expect, he’s just a freshman. Roberson is looked at as a little less athletic than Grant. If he can improve his jump shot and ball-handling, he could be a breakout scorer for SU next winter.
Ron Patterson SO 2013-14 PPG: 2.4
Boy, did Ron like to shot. The freshman saw the floor sparingly this past year, but SU is going to relay on him for more minutes and more steady scoring in 2015. He may have to do what Cooney did this season for the Orange and score in double-figures. Behind Cooney, he is the only shooting guard off the bench.
Chris McCullough FR 2013-14 PPG: N/A
McCullough may be the biggest wild card of them all next season. The soon-to-be Orange is a natural scorer, and has a great knack for getting to the rim. He has the potential to come in and perform at the level of a previous freshman who took Syracuse all the way to a national championship 11 years ago. As long as he can stay out of trouble, he could have a significant season in Year 1 on the hill.
Posted by: Kevin Fitzgerald