With the the announcement that Tyus Battle opted away from the NBA Draft in favor of coming back to Syracuse, the return was complete.
All five of SU‚Äôs 2017-2018 starters‚ÄîTyus Battle, Frank Howard, Oshae Brissett, Paschal Chukwu and Marek Dolezaj‚Äîwill once again play for the Orange for the 2018-2019 season.
This scenario does not occur too frequently. Very often, at least one starter either graduates and is done playing in the NCAA or goes on to the NBA Draft and leaves college basketball behind.
But when all five starters return on a team, there is a lot that can happen.
First, the team has the opportunity to improve. All five of these players know each other at this point. They have played a full season together, have gone through highs and lows together and have developed as a team together. They have already stormed, where they all enter the room for the first time together as individuals trying to figure out who is around them. They have already normed, where they start to figure out that working as a team with those around them is possible. They have already formed, where they have figured out how to play together and achieve some success. And they have performed, where they have completely solidified as a team and reached a high level.
These five players have already come together to the point where they have made it to an NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen together, and they nearly went even further than that. They have defied all odds together time after time last season, and now they are back on the same court together, ready to do even better. They have a whole season of knowledge of how they work as a team already, and they can pinpoint specific areas of play to focus on rather than starting all over again with a new team and waiting to see what happens and refine their skills later.
Also, this means these five players are starting this coming season a few steps ahead of their competitors. While other teams start all over again with their players getting to know each other‚Äôs names, Syracuse‚Äôs players already have a foundation of play and teamwork to build on. SU will be starting this season as a team that can perform while other teams are clashing within themselves and are still storming.
Yet, there is something to watch out for. The starting five all returning does not mean this is the same team as last year. Other changes have been made. The big differences? Elijah Hughes is eligible to play this season after transferring from East Carolina University and taking the mandatory year off. Also, new recruits Jalen Carey, Robert Braswell and Buddy Boeheim will join SU this season.
Don‚Äôt expect these four new players to be benchwarmers all season. Adding new players to a team changes the whole team dynamic, especially when these players are expected to get some playing time, and in some cases, expected to get more than just ‚Äúsome‚Äù minutes. The starting five is returning, but there are some new faces here that will be around this season, and there is potential for them to shake up Syracuse‚Äôs core.
Overall, what this means is that the Orange should be an even better team this year than last year. The starting five that has already proven itself gets another year to work together and improve on what they already know they can do. New faces join the team and make the team different, yes, but this correlates to new talent that can be used as a very valuable resource.
So, they had a Sweet Sixteen run last year. And this year looks to be even sweeter.
Published: David Edelstein