About a month ago, if you asked any Syracuse basketball fan about next year’s team, they would have been excited over the sheer depth that the Orange boasted in the front court. But, the collection of talent has suddenly faded, and yesterday proved to be the cherry on top.
On Saturday afternoon, All-American recruit Thomas Bryant announced his commitment to the Indiana Hoosiers, capping off a month-long stretch of the Syracuse roster dwindling with a scholarship reduction looming.
At the end of the regular season, SU was looking at a loaded frontcourt with Chris McCullough, DaJuan Coleman, BJ Johnson, Tyler Roberson, Chinonso Obokoh and Michael Gbinije returning. The Orange is also brining in Tyler Lydon and Moustapha Diagne, and had a strong chance at inking Bryant and bolstering the roster even more.
In the last few weeks, however, the Orange saw BJ Johnson transfer, Bryant commit elsewhere, and Chris McCullough declare for the NBA Draft despite tearing his ACL and only playing in 16 games. Those three players alone could have started down low and been one of the best units in the country. Instead, the team is down to ten scholarships and can realistically start its scholarship reduction next season, something that did not seem possible when the NCAA handed out its sanctions to the Orange three weeks ago.
Bryant was never a lock to come to Syracuse, but for some reason, the fan base felt that it was a foregone conclusion that he would appease his family and attend a school very close to home. But, after news broke that Bryant hadn’t heard from the SU coaching staff in two months, fans’ worst fears were confirmed.
His commitment to IU compounded with McCullough’s questionable departure has a lot of Syracuse fans paranoid that next season might be just as bad as this one. Yet, it is almost a guarantee that next season will be an improvement.
Relying on the backcourt is not necessarily a problem for the Orange, as they have a senior leader in Cooney, a second-year starter in Kaleb Joseph, and an All-American in Malachi Richardson joining the team. Gbinije can also flex to the guard position giving the Orange even more length at the top of the zone.
In addition, how often does Jim Boeheim actually play a rotation of more than seven or eight players? Sure the Orange may have lost talent, but it has plenty of talent to fill the holes, and it’s not like 13 different players were going to see the court in a game anyway.
Posted By: Jason Weingold