Last week Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com released his “ridiculously” early preseason top 25 for the ’14-’15 hoops season, and while we’re months away from even thinking about Boehiem’s Bunch, it was notable that Syracuse didn’t make the list. Duke, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas, Florida, UNC, Kentucky, Wichita State, and Virginia made up his top 10.
Nebraska, SMU and Villanova were in his top 25. The Orange were not. For a team that was 25-0 and been to the Final Four a year ago, to not see SU in the top 25 is a little startling.
Eh, one man’s opinion, right? Kinda. While SU has been placed in most everyone else’s preseason top 25, the Orange is not in anyone’s top 15. Seth Davis of SI.com gave the Orange the most love at #18, writing, “Tyler Ennis’ decision to turn pro was a setback, but Jim Boeheim says incoming freshman forward Chris McCullough is also good enough to be one-and-done.”
ESPN.com put Syracuse at #21: “If Tyler Ennis had returned, coach Jim Boeheim’s team would be in the ACC contention tier with Duke and Virginia. With Ennis committed to the NBA draft, the Orange could struggle. There is obviously still some talent left (Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney, Rakeem Christmas) — and that goes double if Jerami Grant, a potential late first-round pick right now, decides to come back — but losing Ennis may mean forcing incoming freshman guard Kaleb Joseph into a starting point role. Wait and see.”
NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk placed the Orange at #22.
This brings us to Grant. Jon Rothstein at CBSSports.com writes: “The Orange took a hit when point guard Tyler Ennis decided to leave after his freshman season and now coach Jim Boeheim will likely have to lean on a first-year floor general in Kaleb Joseph to run his offense next season. That’s an easier thing to deal with if you have an anchor like Grant to lean on.
Grant, a versatile forward, would be a legitimate ACC Player of the Year candidate if he returned to school for his junior season but he’s a likely top 20 pick if he decides to enter the draft. Without Grant, Syracuse will be talented, but still unproven with wings like Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson inheriting Grant’s minutes.”
It doesn’t really matter what the pundits say right now. We’re a week removed from the national championship. We haven’t seen the exhibition season, how guys fit together, or who took their game to the next level over the summer. There’s a million x-factors that will affect where these teams stack up. And for all the hype and talent a team may have, nothing is a guarantee. Kentucky was the preseason #1 and lost 10 games. They were the 8-seed and made it to the title game. Syracuse being #18 or #22 or #2 isn’t that big a deal.
But the loss of Ennis, CJ Fair and potentially Grant is obviously a blow. There’s plenty of incoming talent, and McCullough could end up being another big time one-and-done player. Right now the national hype is subdued on the Orange, but that often is right where Boeheim wants it.