Entering this season we knew it wasn’t likely Syracuse would cut down the nets in Indianapolis. There was uncertainty surrounding many of the returning players for Jim Boeheim’s squad, combined with plenty of inexperience from the incoming class. On top of it, the biggest expectations were coming in the form of the Class of ’15. By the end of the year, we knew just how disappointing this year would ultimately be. After the self-imposed sanctions, we’ve all known the date the basketball season would be coming to a close.
Looking back at the season, here’s what we discovered:
The Orange was led by it’s front court, which in essence was one man: Rakeem Christmas. Without him it’s safe to say the Orange wouldn’t have won half as many games as it did this year (insert Gerry McNamara reference here). No other player came close to what Christmas did for this team. Rak will end up as one of the most beloved Orange players in years. While he didn’t lead them to glory in his senior season, his heart was on display every night this year. He developed into one of the grittiest and most productive post players in Orange history. And the fact that it came during a lost season makes us all salute him just a little bit more.
As for the rest of the frontcourt, Michael Gbinije turned it on late in the season, and Tyler Roberson, the stretch four who became a solid four when Chris McCullough went out, quietly bumped his stats up to a respectable 8 points and 7 rebounds per game.
The point guard play was inconsistent at best. Defensively, Kaleb Joseph had his fair share of struggles. The Orange was one of the worst shooting teams in the nation, which is why the defense was so important, and kept SU in many games. We found out no matter how long Boeheim hangs onto it, the zone still works.
The NCAA’s findings put a final cloud over the season. Luckily, there will be no postseason ban beyond this year. This means SU will likely be able to keep its highly-touted recruiting class together. But it also means the Orange way of running a program has been flawed for quite some time, and that will need to change. You can certainly argue every top-tier program has these types of indiscretions. But with the school on probation, and a second major finding under Boeheim’s watch, SU can’t afford to cut corners or cheat the system at any point.
The next edition of SU hoops will arrive after a longer-than-ever offseason in CNY. But expectations will once again be high, unlike how this season started.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson