When this year’s basketball team first stepped on the court, nearly everybody knew that the team was going to be far from the product on the court the year before. But, everyone also knew that the 2015-2016 team would be worth the wait.
Despite losing BJ Johnson and Ron Patterson to transfers, Chris McCullough to the NBA, and Rakeem Christmas to graduation, Orange fans still have their heads held high in anticipation for next season.
ESPN, on the other hand, doesn’t think so highly of the Orange. SU doesn’t make an appearance in ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2015-2016.”
In addition, ESPN predicts that the Orange will only be a nine seed in the tournament next season. In an insider piece, Jeff Goodman writes, “The Orange should be better than last season despite losing Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough. Jim Boeheim’s team will still have Trevor Cooney and a talented freshman class led by Malachi Richardson.”
The Orange is ranked behind ACC foes Virginia (one seed), North Carolina (two seed), Duke (four seed), and North Carolina State (eight seed). Notre Dame and Lousiville (ten seeds) and Florida State (11 seed) are ranked below the Orange.
Goodman seems to forget about key players like Michael Gbinije in his analysis. Gbinije, who really came into his own down the stretch last season, will be the most important player on the team next year. He has the versatility to play both point guard and on the wing, and the team will only go as far as he can bring it.
He also chooses to focus on Trevor Cooney’s contribution to the team; but if Malachi Richardson, Tyler Lydon, and other players shoot the three ball-well, Cooney could be dropped in the rotation.
One other inconsistency in Goodman’s ranking is his opinion on incoming freshman classes. Despite the Orange having a top-five recruiting class in the nation, he doesn’t think the four incoming players will impact the team much. Yet, Kentucky, who could lose seven or eight of their players from this season’s final four team, is still the top overall seed based on their incoming freshman. Similarly, Duke is a four seed based on their incoming class. SU arguably has just as much returning talent as Duke does, as well as a better incoming class. Yet, they are ranked significantly lower than the Blue Devils.
The Orange certainly have a difficult schedule next season, having to travel to Pittsburgh, UNC, Duke, Virginia, and Louisville, while only playing the Tar Heels and Pitt at home. If the Orange can battle through a tough conference schedule, it should make a triumphant return to the tournament.
Posted: Jason Weingold