Now that the season is officially over (and has been pretty much since early February), we have digested the season, the sanctions, and can officially turn in the final grades of the season.
It was an off season for all, with many unexpected things happening, especially the departures of Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant. Here are the final grades turned in.
Kaleb Joseph: C
It was a lot to ask of a freshman. He had to run the point for an inexperienced team and did not really have any upperclassman to teach him the ropes. Michael Carter-Williams had Scoop Jardine and although Ennis did not have anyone, he was the exception because he was a one and done. Joseph showed signs of improvement throughout the season, quickly changing from a turnover machine to only a few per game. Much was asked of him so in a way, we have to cut him a break. He never really hurt this team, but certainly did not help it.
Trevor Cooney: B
This is an average mark for Cooney. He had his good games lighting it up from deep, but then had others where nothing could fall. He did more attacking the basket and doing more than just being a shooter, but he wasn’t so much Mr. Clutch as he had been in the past. Syracuse played close games and could have used Cooney’s deep threes to spark to some wins.
Michael Gbinije: B+
This would have been an A- but, dude — hit you’re free throws. This was the biggest issue of the season. It started as a poor three-point shooting team, but this became the biggest problem. Credit Gbinije. He was a factor in the wins, and a factor in the losses. He learned to shoot the ball and drive to the basket. He was supposed to be a bench player but with a lack of depth, all around, he really stepped up and contributed in a way nobody had expected. He was a key reason this team won games it should have lost, but failing to hit free throws late in the game is a reason why this team lost games it should have won. He’s going to be big next year – really big.
Tyler Roberson: B-
At the beginning of the season, this guy was at a D in my book. He couldn’t score, and he pretty much just stood there and ran around. Roberson looked like a freshman, but at the end of the season, looked like a sophomore with some pretty decent experience. With the loss of Chris McCullough, that was when Roberson had to step in and play more minutes than expected. He was off to a slow start, but took charge on the boards late in the season, which shows promising signs for next year that he can be even better than he was this year.
Rakeem Christmas: A
Not every game was remarkable. Christmas was named to the First Team All-ACC, which is already an amazing accomplishment. There are a few ways to look at this.
-he improved from his first three years so much that he looked even better than he was
-he kept this team above .500
Yes, I said it. If Christmas was not the player he was this year and more like he was the first three years in Syracuse, I don’t think this team would have been above .500. Maybe they would have been .500, but he improved nearly every part of his game so much that he was the reason this team kept going. Although he couldn’t play in the postseason as part of the self-imposed ban, he went out in style. A great job done by Christmas, who has a very bright future ahead of him.
Ron Patterson: D
He didn’t get all that much playing time, which is somewhat understandable when you’re playing in tight games and need your top guys on the floor to win.
BJ Johnson: C-
Some people may think this is generous, and it absolutely might be. He showed the potential to be a good basketball player. He needs to get bigger. He has height, but needs to put on 20 more pounds to be a more physical player. He can shoot, and his sharp shooting against Notre Dame and Boston College showed signs that he can be good, but can do more if he gets bigger.
Jim Boeheim: A-
What could he do? This team would have been much better with a healthy McCullough, and Grant and Ennis still here. Ennis starting would have given Joseph the time he needed and it would have allowed him to mature into the role. Grant would have started, and McCullough would have joined him on the floor and Gbinije coming off the bench. There were a lot of uncontrollables. Boeheim did a tremendous job of keeping his guys focused on finishing the season strong, despite the circumstances. He led the team to upsets over Louisville and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish could very well win the ACC Championship on Saturday night.
Posted: Austin Pollack