Syracuse has had a busy offseason with recent departures of Kadary Richmond, John Bol Ajak and Robert Braswell, as well as new arrivals in Symir Torrence and Cole Swider. But the biggest decision has yet to come.
What’s the fate of Alan Griffin in an Orange uniform?
The odds of a player transferring twice in two years is slim. Or at least its instances are few. But with how last season ended, there’s a chance Griffin lands in a different rotation later this year.
At the beginning of the season, Griffin looked like the perfect Elijah Hughes replacement. A 6’5” to 6’6” combo guard who could defend relatively well, shoot the three (Griffin shot 42% from distance in his sophomore season at Illinois) and drive to the basket.
The junior scored in double figures in his first five games. Through his first seven games, Griffin tallied over 20 in four of them. He matched Hughes’ score-first mentality and his confidence on the court. Griffin’s play sustained for 30-35 minutes a game, exactly what Jim Boeheim needed in a starting guard.
Even though his defense was criticized at times, the transfer crashed the glass like a power forward and swatted shots like a center. Griffin finished with five double-doubles, nearly two blocks a game (6th in ACC) and top 25 in the conference in boards. The junior excelled in his role at the bottom of the zone which propelled SU to a 9-4 start.
But as the season rolled along, the wheels started to fall off. Griffin’s point totals stayed in the double figure range, but his efficiency took a dive. The New York native shot under 35% from the field in half of his last 14 games. He took more contested shots, rather than finding open space putting the ball on the ground.
This resulted in a minutes drop and when the ACC tournament quarterfinal game against Virginia came around, Griffin played only 12 minutes because of poor shot selection and defensive lapses. But to be without an integral part of the starting lineup, and lose at the buzzer against a ranked opponent, showed the Orange were okay without Griffin.
As a result, SU’s head man placed a shorter leash on Griffin in the NCAA tournament, leading to a three-game stretch that could drive the junior out of Central New York. Griffin played 39 total minutes and scored a measly five points on 11% shooting from the field. Boeheim proved the Illinois transfer was expendable.
From a player who started every game except one, to an overlooked piece often on the bench, Griffin has every reason to leave. Incoming top-recruit Benny Williams could easily fill the role of replacing Griffin (as Braswell did down the stretch). Torrence and Swider will most likely take shots away from the junior.
With that in mind, Syracuse cannot lose another stud with NBA potential, as it did Richmond. But just like over 950 others that have entered the transfer portal, the ball is in the player’s court, and as fans, we are forced to wait and see.