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What More Can Syracuse Do to Retain Players?

Richard Willett/The News & Observer

Player retention in the NCAA is a hot-button issue right now, and Syracuse’s departures this offseason make it easy to jumpstart the same old discussions about the transfer portal.

The recently-departed trio of Robert Braswell, Woody Newton, and Kadary Richmond accounted for nearly 15% of Syracuse’s points last season. That figure may not seem like a ton and Richmond certainly carried more weight than the other two, but it’s still true that SU’s main sources of points off the bench last season are now gone. It doesn’t factor in the potential losses of Alan Griffin or Quincy Guerrier, either.

With so much turnover, it’s natural to assume there’s some discontent within the program. The remedy for that is to ensure SU’s next batch of talented recruits don’t lose their “trust” as Newton did or fail to build a better relationship with Richmond than he had with Seton Hall out of high school. How can they avoid making the same mistakes with high-profile newcomers like 2021 freshman Benny Williams?

Based on what we learned from Richmond and Newton, it’s about treading a fine line when it comes to playing time. Picking between playing your established starters and giving way to a talented newcomer is difficult. Newton practically vanished from the rotation after a solid start to the year, and Richmond was never quite handed the keys to a starting guard spot like he seemed to want. Give too much time to a young player and you risk alienating others who have been on the team longer and worked harder for their spot.

For SU to keep players around for longer than a year, they’ll have to give enough playing time to fresh faces without alienating established starters. In today’s transfer-happy climate, finding a good balance for each individual player is more important than ever. Syracuse can vault back into top program territory if they master that balancing act.

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