Regardless of what this team does in the remaining five regular season games, they probably won’t make the NCAA Tournament, they might not make the NIT, and in all likelihood won’t go far in the ACC Tournament either. But, that doesn’t mean that this is a completely lost season. It doesn’t mean there’s no longer a reason to follow the action. In fact, it might be more important to follow this team now than ever before. Here’s what’s at stake for each rotational player.
It’s already known that the golden child of the Syracuse basketball program will not return to the Hill next year. So, it’s all about what’s next for Boeheim.
The senior’s shooting ability will always be a coveted asset in the pro ranks. Even if his name isn’t called in the upcoming NBA Draft, there will be an NBA team who at least inks him as an undrafted free agent. But the rest of the season for Buddy is all about showcasing his ability outside of his shot.
The question surrounding Girard all year involves consistency. At times he’s been great. At other times, he’s disappeared. Next season will be on his shoulders as the senior leader. So, consistency needs to be a strength of his. Ending the season strong and carrying into the ACC Tournament with confidence could impact the way fans perceive JGIII heading into next season.
Swider is playing the best basketball of his life. With one recent blip on the road against Virginia Tech as the exception, it’s been hard to come by a miss for the Villanova transfer. If you factor out the Blacksburg performance, Swider is 17 for his last 24 from beyond the arc. He is another player with professional aspirations. It is unclear if Swider will be back for next year. However, if he keeps shooting well, it might benefit him to leave early and pursue pro ball.
Let’s see if Boeheim’s petition for an extra year is approved. If it is, then Boeheim is auditioning for his job next year. As crazy as that might seem with Boeheim’s consistency this season, there are some strong wings coming in. Chris Bunch is uber-talented and Maliq Brown is physically dominant. Brown might demand minutes just because of his rebounding ability. So, the next few games are important for Jimmy to prove his worth in the starting lineup.
This one is obvious. With Jesse Edwards hurt, this is an opportunity for Anselem to emerge. Edwards himself had a similar opportunity at the end of the season with Sidibe on the shelf. If Anselem can prove himself as a good enough scorer and elite rebounder and defender like he was in his first start against Virginia Tech, then he will have a bigger role next season.
Similar to Jimmy Boeheim, Torrence is auditioning for a job next season. Justin Taylor and Quadir Copeland will likely have an opportunity to start in the backcourt. But to cash in on that opportunity, they will have to outperform Torrence. That might not be too difficult in practice. However, if Torrence performs well down the stretch then his head start in the race against the freshmen will be that much bigger.
This hasn’t been a wildly successful freshman season for Williams. But that’s ok. The Orange have a lot invested in him, and Williams will have an infinite amount of opportunities to contribute. Every game is an opportunity for him to grow and prove himself to Jim Boeheim as he makes a bid for more minutes next season.
After sitting for nearly two years, it’s just nice to see Sidibe out there. The fifth-year senior is not a part of the future. But, the next few games are years in the making. Just as he needs to enjoy the ability to finally play, we need to enjoy watching him finally make it back.