Finally! The Syracuse Men’s Basketball season is almost here. Coming off an 18-10 record a year ago, the Orange are poised to be one of the top teams in the ACC and have March Madness aspirations. What will Syracuse’s final record be this season? Each of the Fizz staff members answered that question and made their arguments. Check them out:
Jaron May: (18-14)
Don’t get me wrong, I like this team. They are very comparable to last year’s team. However, I may be a little lower on them as my Fizz counterparts because they are one injury away from having serious problems. What if Buddy Boeheim goes down? The offense would be dismantled. What if either Buddy or Joe Girard are not available? The backcourt right now is three men deep, and then Paddy Casey. What if Jesse Edwards can’t play for whatever reason? I’m not sold on Frank Anselem competing with ACC-caliber big men. Obviously, those are a lot of what if’s, but injuries do happen and I seriously worry about this team’s depth. Plus, Jim Boeheim didn’t schedule an easy non-conference slate. The Orange play in the Battle 4 Atlantis, which is packed with talented teams. They also take on Indiana, Villanova and, of course, Georgetown. Those are not the cupcake wins that Syracuse is accustomed to. Then, SU will drop a couple conference games here and there, like it always does, especially with a much more talented ACC this season compared to last year. Yet again, I think Syracuse will be a bubble team and will be sweating it out come Selection Sunday.
Matt Bonaparte: (21-11)
This team has a chance to be special. The shooting is there, the defense is there, the chemistry is there. The only glaring hole in SU basketball this season, is the center position (Big surprise). Do you trust Jesse Edwards to lock down the anchor of that zone all year long? Bourama Sidibe isn’t coming back for at least 4 weeks, and even when he does, how effective will he be? Frank Anselem is another answer but he may not be ready to play with the big dogs of the ACC. That shooting will carry the Orange to plenty of wins this season, but as we’ve all seen before, there are days when it’s just not there. If they can stay away from the bad losses though, this team should have another chance to shock the world in the NCAA tournament.
Brad Klein: (19-13)
Syracuse is going to be in almost every game just because of their shooting. What could hinder them in a big way is rebounding. The Orange were out-rebounded by Pace in the first exhibition game, and if it weren’t for a second half turnaround, the same would have happened against LeMoyne in the preseason finale. Offensive rebounds will be hard to come by with the jump-shot heavy offense and the razor thin centers down low, especially with the initial absence of Bourama Sidibe. That problem will be compounded against the Armando Bacots of the world in conference play. If the shots fall, then the sky is the limit. But it will be hard for SU to win if opponents are getting multiple possessions on every trip.
John Eads: (22-10)
This is a very good team. There’s a lot of talent and depth at key positions and Coach Boeheim worked some wonders in the transfer portal. Expect Joe Girard to show some big strides after a sophomore slump, Cole Swider/Jimmy Boeheim to be instant impacts, and for Jesse Edwards to emerge in the middle. Yes, SU also lost a lot of talent via the portal but the additions may outweigh the losses. SU gets off to a very hot start through the non-conference and early ACC play, could even be ranked before starting to regress to the mean. This team should once again be on the correct side of the bubble and make the NCAA Tournament.
Ian Unsworth: (19-13)
After watching both scrimmages, any SU fan can deduct the Orange have taken a step forward on the perimeter. Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim are very steady players, not boom or bust like Alan Griffin, and Benny Williams is bursting with potential. The questions come up top and down low. Can Jesse Edwards and Frank Anselem hang with power five bigs for 40 minutes? Is Joe Girard going to return to his freshman year form? We’ll have answers to these quickly, as the Orange embark on a tough non-con schedule before diving into ACC play. The end of November and beginning on December will prove a lot about this team, which should steadily improve through conference competition. I expect Syracuse to make the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, and be seeded between 6 and 10 come March Madness.
Carter Bainbridge: (19-13)
Syracuse is still going to be a solid team this year, but all the new pieces make this a hard team to gauge. The departures of Quincy Guerrier (transfer), Alan Griffin (G League), and Kadary Richmond (transfer) cost SU a lot of athleticism and scoring depth. Now, the Orange are counting on forward Buddy Boeheim to make up for a lion’s share of offensive production. That seems like a sure bet, but defensively is where this bunch should worry you. SU was just 10th in the ACC in scoring defense last year, and center Bourama Sidibe just went down with another injury. Backup big man Jesse Edwards has shown flashes, but there’s still a lot of question marks this front court needs to answer.
In the meantime, new transfers Cole Swider, Symir Torrence, and Jimmy Boeheim will all be trying to carve out roles. The challenge for Jim Boeheim in Year 46 is playing all those names enough to keep them happy – and we haven’t even mentioned highly-touted freshman forward Benny Williams’ entry into the mix.
This SU team will definitely put up some points, but the question is whether its suspect defense can hold off opponents on a regular basis. The answer will dictate how good a final run this particular group of players has before the Class of ‘22 comes in to shake things up. To me, the Orange likely don’t have enough to get much further than they did last year.
Cam Ezeir: (23-9)
This team is a renovated version of last year’s group to the extreme. In fact, I don’t see a lot of holes in the Orange’s 8-player rotation. There’s no more external debate to who should start at point guard, which eases any pressure Joe Girard felt last season. Quincy Guerrier and Robert Braswell were replaced by experienced scorers who can create their own shot in Jimmy Boeheim and Cole Swider. Buddy Boeheim only got better after last year, plus the addition of Benny Williams is a piece that opponents have to acclimate to without much college tape to do it.
That’s not even taking into account the length of this group in regards to attacking the rim, swinging the ball along the perimeter, and locking down the 2-3 zone. I also think it’s worth mentioning the creativity and craftiness Samir Torrence can exude off the bench as a true “1” and ball handler up the court.
The only question mark lies at the center position. I think the absence of Bourama Sidibe is better with how the Orange want to play (fast tempo and athleticism at all five spots), but how much will lack of ACC experience plague Jesse Edwards and Frank Anselem? Edwards is much better after last year’s late season stint as the starter, but his excellent exhibition play is not guaranteed to carry over.
Overall, SU will cruise through non-conference play and enter ACC competition as a ranked team, and deservedly so. That success will carry over to big wins over Duke, Florida State and Virginia. I predict a max of three losses in the Dome (out of 15 total) as the Orange take true advantage of home court.
The ultimate result: An upside of the elite 8 and the downside of an early round of 32 exit