Syracuse sports fans have had a difficult couple months recently. The SU football season is down the toilet and unsalvageable. So, now it’s time to turn our attention from the gridiron to the court because Syracuse Men‚Äôs Basketball is back! The Orange kick off their season this Friday against Bryant, which should be a sight for sore eyes for SU fans.
To get you prepared for the season, the Fizz has been putting out a plethora of preview content. You can go listen to our last two Fizz Radio episodes by clicking here or here. You can check out our record predictions or our preseason awards. Plus, we are previewing each positional group– from the guards, to now the wings, and to the bigs later this week.
We all know Jim Boeheim likes to run a tight ship and have a pretty small rotation. In our guard preview, Fizz staff member Ian Unsworth put out his projected rotation. I thought that was a bit of fun, so here is my projected SU depth chart and corresponding minutes per game:
Point Guard: Joe Girard III (~32), Kadary Richmond (~8)
Shooting Guard: Buddy Boeheim (~34), Kadary Richmond (~6, off-ball)
Small Forward: Alan Griffin (~30), Quincy Gurrier (~10)
Power Forward: Marek Dolezaj (~23), Quincy Gurrier (~17)
Center: Bourama Sidibe (~29), Marek Dolezaj (~11, small ball)
Today, we are focusing on the wings, aka the small forwards and power forwards. Alan Griffin is presumably the starting SF, Marek Dolezaj will remain as the starting PF, and Quincy Guerrier will be the first guy off the bench and see time at both wing positions. Syracuse fans know the names Dolezaj and Guerrier, but Griffin is new. So, here is everything you need to know about each guy.
Griffin is going to play an important role for Syracuse this season. With Elijah Hughes leaving for the NBA, Griffin will have to step up in the starting small forward role. The Illinois-transfer is known for his shooting ability. Last season, he came off the bench and still hit 47 three-pointers, which was 19th most in the Big Ten. He‚Äôs not known for his dribbling ability, but that may have been a product of Illinois‚Äôs system. Griffin will be yet another sharpshooter for SU on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, at 6‚Äô5 Griffin may not be the tallest wing SU has but he is long and athletic. His high school coach Patrick Massaroni told The Daily Orange, ‚Äúhe‚Äôll play so much longer than his 6‚Äô5 frame.‚Äù Griffin grabbed 4.5 rebounds per game in limited minutes last year, so expect him to bump that number up as a projected starter this season. Plus, his speed out on the wing will help SU get out to the corners and defend shooters. Griffin will be an important player on both sides of the ball for Syracuse this season. Keep an eye out for him, he could be an All-ACC caliber player.
If you have watched Syracuse basketball in the past few years, you know who Dolezaj is. The senior will always be the hardest worker and the one that gives his all. He is multifaceted on the offensive side– being able to play in the pick and role as well as being able to make his own opportunities off the dribble. Defensively, Dolezaj is a center playing on the wing. He‚Äôs listed at 6‚Äô10 and is as lanky as lanky can be. Those long arms get in the passing lanes and disrupt what opposing teams are trying to do. Plus, Dolezaj is tough enough to move to the middle and play the center position, but you can learn more about the bigs in a future article. Dolezaj is this team‚Äôs heart and sole. The key for him now is to stop fouling. Last season, he averaged 3.3 fouls per game and fouled out of nine contests. If he can cut down on those, Dolezaj will have an even greater impact on his team.
Personally, Guerrier is my pick for most improved. As a true freshman, he averaged seven points and five rebounds per game. It wasn‚Äôt until after last year that we learned he was dealing with a groin injury the entire season and was sometimes crying himself to sleep because the pain was so bad. Guerrier had surgery in the off season and is now back to full health. That leads me to believe he will be even better than he was last year, especially because he will be the first one off the bench and will be playing similar minutes as the starters. Guerrier is a little different from Dolezaj and Griffin, however, because he is more of an inside-guy. He is a big body who likes to bump and bruise down low, instead of shoot on the outside. Guerrier is a great defensive rebounder and should be somewhat of a presence on the low block offensively. Syracuse fans should be excited to see Guerrier out there this season.