Through three games of the season, Syracuse is still relying on Joe Girard, Marek Dolezaj and Buddy Boeheim (in the one game he’s played). The Orange have also received a boost from the play of transfer Alan Griffin.
But the freshmen — while they aren’t the centerpiece — portray a bright future for Orange fans. Kadary Richmond is clearly the best player of the first-years, and has fluidly stepped in as a replacement to Boeheim. It will be interesting how he plays against SU’s toughest match of the season so far in No. 24 Rutgers on Tuesday. The Scarlet Knights were one of the best defensive teams in the country last year.
But Richmond has already shown that he is the best defender that head coach Jim Boeheim has at the top of the 2-3 zone. His 6-foot-5 frame, combined with his athleticism leads to flurries of steals and SU fast breaks. For a team that wants to play fast, Richmond is a much needed playmaker.
He also gels well with Girard, since Richmond likes to drive to the basket for his points. While Girard will likely never be a good scorer inside the arc, he seemed to have refound his touch from outside against Rider.
Besides Richmond, Woody Newton has impressed Boeheim so far as well.
“Woody’s pretty good in the zone,” Boeheim said. “I’m really happy with what he’s done so far.”
Against Rider, Newton hit 3-4 threes, giving Syracuse a lengthy forward off the bench who can reliably knock down long-range jumpers. He’s also versatile in the zone, and Boeheim has played him on the wings and at the top of the 2-3 zone. Besides versatility, that’s incredibly impressive for a true freshman to understand the intricacies of Boeheim’s zone, at multiple positions, so early in his career.
Center Frank Anselem showed his potential against Rider as well. While he’s still got a long way to go, and is rather deep in the center rotation, Anselem’s 7-foot-5 wingspan allows him to be a solid rim protector. He blocked the first shot of his career last Saturday, and finished with six points.
While Newton and Anselem will likely see playing time diminish against tougher competition, all three freshmen have shown potential that intrigued SU’s staff. Finally, Syracuse has enough depth to slowly bring along young players, before handing over the reins in a couple of years.