There is no question that Syracuse fell short of expectations last season. Despite the surprising departures of Tyler Ennis and Jermai Grant, Syracuse fans had high expectations for their Orange as they believed in Chris McCullough and Kaleb Joseph. That didn’t work out as hoped as the Orange had a very mediocre season and would not have made March Madness even if they were eligible.
This off-season is like Deja Vu all over again. Chris McCullough left early, and the Orange will have to rely on Freshman yet again to be a good team. The National Media seems to think that an early departure and the loss of the team’s leader in Rakeem Christmas spells a bubble tournament team. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Syracuse as an 11th seed in his latest “bracketology” and CBS Sports ranks Syracuse as the 9th best ACC team.
Ok, let’s break this down. The Orange went 9-9 in the ACC in 2015 which was good enough for 8th in the conference.
The Orange, lost two players, only one of whom had any real role in the Orange’s conference play as Chris McCullough went down with a torn ACL in the team’s third conference game of the year. So, when you break it down, the Orange should be better at almost every position next year.
At point guard, the Orange will presumably use Kaleb Joseph or Michael Gbinije. Joseph struggled last year but slowly improved as they year went on and should be better in his sophomore season. Gbinije was arguably the Orange’s best player — though many would say that was Christmas.
At shooting guard, the Orange have Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson. Cooney will be a third year starter and Richardson has a ton of potential coming out of high school. At the three is Tyler Roberson who really emerged late in the year as a great rebounder, and freakish athlete. He should only get better as he gains experience.
Roberson may also play the four if Joseph starts and Gbinije plays the three, which happened often last season. The biggest question mark is the center position because no one knows how effective DaJuan Coleman will be coming back from injury and he has the biggest shoes to fill.
If, and it may be a big if, Coleman is healthy he can be a rock in the zone and strong on offense.
The point is, next year’s Orange will have experience and some young blood, which is usually the best combination for a good team. The Orange should be improved from last season, and don’t be surprised if they are better than the National Media seems to think they will be.