Syracuse men’s basketball chatter is appropriately picking up right around Class of ‘23 commitment season. How deeply SU invests in this upcoming class is anyone’s guess – the Orange already faded out of contention for several high-profile targets, and one of our writers on the latest Fizz Five contended that Syracuse should settle for only a player or two to let their Class of ‘22 work.
Speaking of that Class of ‘22, the six players who compose it have been all the rage when discussing SU hoops for the past three months or so. ‘Cuse swung hard and connected with several high profile recruits last summer and early this spring. Per 247Sports, the “SU six” now rank as the No. 20 class in the nation.
There’s going to be some pressure on this year’s freshman class to produce with three fifths of SU’s usual 2021-22 starting lineup now gone. Guard Joe Girard and center Jesse Edwards are the pieces that remain, and it’s a fool’s errand to guess how Jim Boeheim is going to slant his lineup. However, the undeniable truth is that in order to get back above .500, the Class of ‘22 has to produce in one key area: outside shooting.
It sounds daunting to expect first-year players to suddenly come in and start knocking it down from range, but three-pointers and point production have to come from somewhere. It’s Girard’s show this year from outside with Buddy Boeheim now chasing an opportunity in the NBA, but forward Cole Swider’s contributions that included 81 three-pointers will also be missed. Freshmen Justin Taylor and Judah Mintz in particular have both been lauded for their shooting acumen, so they may figure to see plenty of playing time.
SU’s scoring defense also has to tighten up after failing to crack the top 300 in Division I, but Edwards was playing his best basketball of the year right before a season-ending wrist injury in early February. Either SU scraps together enough outside shooting from its freshmen, or we see a more likely identity change on the part of Boeheim’s squad to one that doesn’t rely so heavily on the three. Any shift away from that philosophy, however subtle, may go a long way in determining how Syracuse’s offense functions this season.