Thus far this season, Syracuse basketball looks good, really good. Joe Girard has entered the season like a fireball, shooting 8/8 from behind the arc and a 12:4 turnover to assist ratio in the team’s first two games. Girard has been playing perfect basketball, and his teammates aren’t too far behind. Buddy Boeheim has begun this season similarly to how he finished the last, averaging 20.5 ppg in the young season. As far as the transfers go, both Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim have scored the ball well and shown they can be impactful on defense as well as rebounding. Symir Torrence hasn’t found his stroke just yet, but he’s been helpful for the offense regardless. Jesse Edwards looked a lot better on defense in game two than he did in game one, still, some need for him to get better rebounding the ball and avoiding fouls, but he’s got some time. The biggest questions mark this team has as of right now is within its depth. Last year Syracuse had arguably the most depth it’s had in 10+ years. With guys like Kadary Richmond, Robert Braswell, and Jesse Edwards available off the bench SU didn’t have to worry about what would occur if a player went down. This season that story is a bit different. Wherever you look there’s not much in terms of a backup.
Let’s go top to bottom:
In his two seasons on the hill, Girard has averaged a combined 30 mpg. That will likely be the same story this season with Symir Torrence available behind him. Torrence isn’t nearly the scorer Girard is, but with a strong head on his shoulder,s Torrence has the ability to come in make differences within pace of play and strong leadership on the court for Syracuse. However, if one of these two were to go down for an extended period of time, there would certainly be an issue. It’s doubtful that SU fans would be comfortable with Girard playing Tyus Battle-type minutes and it seems unlikely that Torrence can play near a full game. So what does that mean? Does Paddy Casey come in? The walk-on grad-transfer from the University of Sciences in Philadelphia saw some action in both exhibition games and even a couple of minutes against Lafayette. Is he the answer? COVID-19 showed us what it felt like to lose a star player last season. Buddy was out due to the virus for an extended period of time last season. Kadary Richmond filled and put on a show for the few games he got the opportunity to start in. This season if Buddy were to go down? There would be pandemonium on the hill.
The wings are probably the deepest position on the team. Not because they have more bodies but because the one and only they do have is Benny Williams, SU’s freshman phenom. Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim are talented and have shown it in two games. Benny Williams seems pretty capable, the 4-star recruit probably should start if needed but it might not be pretty. If you count Chaz Owens or Jon Bol Ajak SU has other options, but most probably don’t.
With Bourama Sidibe having gone down before the season began, Jesse Edwards has been shoved into a role he might not be ready for. There will be times he impresses you this season and times he fouls out way too early. With Jon Bol Ajak being counted as a wind on the roster the only other payer at the big spot is Frank Anselem. Now a sophomore, Anselem has some experience under his belt having played behind Dolezaj, Edwards, and Sidibe for a season. He looks like by far the most talented option on the offensive end at this position, though as well all know the anchor of the zone needs to have rebounding and rim defending ability, things that the kid from Cali is still working. There’s a major issue if one of these guys goes down. If that were to happen you can bet on seeing Jimmy Boeheim playing the 5, as Coach Boeheim would pretty much be forced to play a small ball lineup as the team did for pretty much the entirety of last season.
Depth is a massive problem for this team. Sure, Boeheim only plays 7 or 8 guys anyway, but this team is an injury away from calamity.