After making the sweet 16 on a classic Syracuse March Madness run in 2018, SU took a step back this past season, failing to move past Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. While the team played better in the regular season this past year, it failed to live up to expectations heading into the season. After adding Elijah Hughes, Jalen Carey, and Buddy Boeheim, many Syracuse fans were looking forward to a deep tournament run. Of course, that fell short. On a team full of scorers, there were too many mouths to feed, without enough three-point threats.
Out of the three newcomers, Boeheim became the knockdown shooter SU turned to down the stretch. After non-conference play, Boeheim shot lights out from three, rarely forcing a shot on his way to shooting 40 percent from deep in conference and tournament play.
Hughes actually ended the season as the Orange’s best three point shooter, as he hit almost 37% of his threes. But the difference between the air-guitar strumming junior and Boeheim, was that Hughes occasionally needed a heat check. After nailing a couple deep threes in a row, he had a tendency to hoist up a contested three early in the shot clock. But besides being a close to elite three-point shooter, he also hit 42 percent of his field goals, just behind Tyus Battle.
Next year, with the additions of Joe Girard and Brycen Goodine, SU will likely be shooting a whole lot more threes. A spaced-out offense will result in more efficient, open looks. And by adding a couple freshman who shot over 40 percent from three in high school, SU could pile up points in rapid bunches. That’s not something Syracuse fans are used to seeing recently. For a team that averaged under 70 points, games could be grind-it-out, defensive battles. And when teams couldn’t miss from three, like Virginia earlier this season, Syracuse fell behind and could never climb back. But with elite three shooters of their own coming in, the Orange likely won’t get blown out too often.
A tenacious 2-3 zone defense already allows SU to occasionally knock off elite teams like it did against Duke earlier this year. Now imagine that same defense, coupled with a dynamic offense, riddled with elite shooters. On a team like that, an explosion of offense is always a possibility.
Of course, these incoming shooters will be young players who may not receive much playing time next season. But it’s fun to imagine what could be in store for the future of Syracuse. With knockdown shooters spread from point guard to small forward, the Orange could be a tough matchup for anyone.