The ACC announced its all-conference teams yesterday, and Tyus Battle was the only Syracuse player to appear on any of the teams. He ended up as third team all-ACC, with Louisville guard Jordan Nwora, Notre Dame big John Mooney, VT guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Clemson guard Marcquise Reed. Battle landed in the middle of the five in points scored this year, but it’s important to note that John Mooney, who averaged just over 14 points, also averages a double-double.
Most SU fans would agree that Battle was the only Syracuse player worthy of being named all-ACC this year. Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett have both been disappointing this season, and Elijah Hughes doesn’t have the stats to make the list.
Moving on to the rest of the post-season honors, the Orange didn’t have a sixth man in contention for the hardware. Marek Dolezaj would classify as SU’s sixth man, and while he’s a gritty hustle player, he doesn’t have the stats voters like to see. Voters look to pinpoint guys off the bench who can score in bunches, instead of glue guys known for bruising elbows on the hardwood.
Virginia sophomore De’Andre Hunter was named the ACC defensive player of the year, and it’s hard to make a case for any SU player to be in the running. The 2-3 zone makes it difficult to examine an individual players defensive prowess, since players cover a certain amount of area on the court. But beyond that, no Syracuse player ended the regular season in the top-five in blocks or steals. Paschal Chukwu averaged almost two blocks a game, but didn’t collect nearly enough rebounds to warrant being in the conversation. Meanwhile senior Frank Howard is SU’s steals leader, but he doesn’t even crack the top-ten in the ACC. While Howard’s an underrated defensive presence, no one is declaring him the next Gary Payton.
Finally, Syracuse didn’t have anyone named for Most Improved Player or the ACC all-freshman team. Jalen Carey didn’t live up to the hype that he created earlier in the season against UConn while filling in for Frank Howard. But he never had a chance against the likes of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett of Duke. Buddy Boeheim was clearly the Orange’s best freshman, and while he had a good first-year campaign, it’s tough to beat out three potential top-five selections in the NBA Draft.
Meanwhile, SU didn’t have a viable threat for the Most Improved Player. Howard and Brissett both regressed and no other player made a big enough jump to warrant attention.
In regard to Syracuse, the voters got it right. Battle deserved to make an all-ACC team. But outside of the shooting guard, no one put up gaudy stats to warrant attention. But with the freshman coming in next season, SU may bring home a whole lot more hardware.