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The Syracuse Crystal (Basket)Ball: Symir Torrence

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Although this series had taken a brief hiatus following the possible fortunes of Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards, it’s back to highlight the pieces who will either bring Syracuse back to its glory days or prove that the regular season continues to be a stalling period for SU.

Let’s start with a player who might have the biggest question mark next to his name, mainly because his role as a starter or bench piece is still up in the air. Symir Torrence entered this ‘Cuse program last year as a role presence. But with the last buzzer sounding disappointment on Syracuse’s 2021-2022 season, it also provided clarity on the potency of Torrence in the starting lineup. He and Girard started the final game of last season as backcourt mates and it worked for a majority of SU’s close loss to Duke. Torrence dished out a season-high 11 assists and tacked on seven points to butter up his statline.

That game is worth noting because of the lack of lineup shifting Jim Boeheim elects to take part in, which could mean that Torrence’s start last season is a one time instance, and the hope revolves around him carrying those numbers into a more limited role. But it could also spell the reason that the Marquette transfer starts the season at point guard and Girard can finally play in his natural shooting guard position (which proved to be the case a lot last year). This is all to say that Torrence’s success either enhances or diminishes based off a decision that will be made closer to the start of the season (yeah, I know that doesn’t help much).

EXPECTATION

With Judah Mintz’s commitment, it is hard to believe that Boeheim would start a loosely proven senior over the possible future of this team, but there are many decisions one wouldn’t put past the 47-year head coach. That is why Torrence starting at the beginning of the year isn’t as outlandish as many might think. Ultimately, the non-conference schedule will determine that sentiment come ACC play.

As of now, the expectation is the Syracuse native will headline SU’s bench unit, which allows Torrence to control the ball, pace and team with his leadership qualities. This is a spot tailor-made for a player like Torrence. His skills are unmatched, however, his role is very distinct, so if Boeheim plays him in that aforementioned spot, that’s where SU’s backup point guard has the best chance at success. 

With all this in mind, Syracuse’s premiere transfer from a season ago should shine in the spotlight geared for him. That is why all expectations should ramp up statistically after an abysmal three points, three assists per game season in 2021. 

Stats per game: 7.5 points (55% FG), 2 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.5 steals

REALITY

The reality is Torrence should meet expectations. It’s his fourth season of D1 collegiate basketball and his second in this SU system. The fact that he gets to anchor down the Orange’s second unit as a leader is the perfect role for a player who has been misidentified his entire career. This shouldn’t be a cliche argument, but it’s one that needs to be made, Torrence has to do his job.

To add some more context, Torrence tallied an assist every five minutes in limited time last year. The reality is with an uptick in minutes and a better grasp of Syracuse’s offense sets, the second-year Syracuse guard should find a better groove as a ball handler and score-second guy. 

Stats per game: 6 points (45% FG), 1 rebound, 7 assists, 1 steal

CEILING

Oddly enough, Torrence’s scoring prowess is irrelevant. With the amount of offensive talent injected this season, the Syracuse native’s job is less about finding his shot and more about creating for others. That being said, he also needs to be more of an offensive threat than last year in order to draw attention. The difference being a fixated approach. Torrence’s ability to attack downhill will draw looks for other defenders and force defensive collapses toward the paint, so his role is more offensive oriented but focused on drive and kick prowess rather than pulling up from 15 feet.

It’s also worth noting that there hasn’t been one mention of Torrence’s defensive ability. That’s because the zone pigeon holes the transfer’s pristine footwork and the focus should lie on his leadership and vocal tendencies in order to move the zone unit in one motion, to close up any gaps.

Torrence also works at his absolute best as the true “1” and in pressure situations. The ceiling for the former Marquette guard is a pass first, score second point guard who is fixated on leading the bench unit and closing out the game in close knit situations.

Stats per game: 9 points (58% FG), 3 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 2 steals in 20 minutes per game

FLOOR

If Torrence doesn’t start, there’s a large possibility that he falls to number four on the guard depth chart behind Joe Girard, Judah Mintz and Quadir Copeland. This would deplete Torrence’s playing time and wouldn’t give the point guard any chance to prove himself on the floor. He’ll either start the season in this role and slowly wither his way down the bench, or a “need-to-score by taking unnecessary jumpers” mindset will ruin his opportunity that’s resting on a silver platter to show the younger players how to find teammates and vocally lead a team.

Stats per game: 4 points (33% FG), 0.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists in 15 minutes per game   

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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