Happy New Year Orange Nation. 2016 is here and both the Syracuse football and basketball teams have room for improvement in the new year. One can argue that both teams underachieved in the previous calendar year and 2016 presents a brand new slate for both teams to begin the ascent.
Let’s start with the lowly Syracuse football program.
Improve on Last Year’s Record (Win at least five games)
This may seem like the simplest and stupidest of New Year’s Resolutions. Of course the Orange should work to improve on last season as it was certainly a disappointment. However, it is important to word the resolution this way to taper expectations. The hiring of Dino Babers is no doubt exciting. The offense that he was able to run while he was at Bowling Green was so exciting that it could make fans drool and he has proven himself to be a winner. However, to expect him to come to Syracuse and take Shafer’s players and make them a 7 or 8 win team may be a stretch. The Orange showed flashes of hope, especially on offense. Eric Dungey, Dontae Strickland and Jordan Fredericks look like they could be the future for this team. However, in crucial games like the USF and UVA games, the offense struggled out of the gate and caught fire too late win the game. The Orange have a tough schedule next season. They, of course, have to play Florida State and Clemson but they also have a rematch with Notre Dame. Winning five games would be a good step for Syracuse, and thanks to the addition of more bowl games, could get the Orange to a bowl.
Now, to the basketball team.
Syracuse lost to Pitt in its ACC opener and you don’t have to look far to figure out why. Pitt had more offensive rebounds than Syracuse did defensive, meaning Pitt rebounded a majority of its own misses. That is not a recipe for victory. The 2-3 zone does not lend itself to strong rebounding and to hope that Hopkins or Boeheim would mix in a different type of defense would be unwise. As such, the Orange absolutely have to make subtle adjustments to less the scope of its rebounding problem. The simplest way to do this is to essentially reteach the players how to rebound. When sitting in the zone, the players do not find a man to box out on a miss. Boeheim and Hopkins have to teach the players to be disciplined in the zone and to find a man once a shot goes up. Without making an adjustment, the Orange may have another long season that could see them in the NIT.