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Syracuse Gets Criticism From ESPN Analyst

It can’t be a good sign when the color commentator goes easy on a team out of pity. That is, apparently, the exact position ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla was in Tuesday when he was behind the mic for Syracuse and Illinois.

The next day, Fraschilla, a college basketball analyst for ESPN and formerly the head coach at Manhattan, St. John’s and New Mexico tweeted, “Tried to be kind last night but talent level at (Syracuse) is low (and it’s a young team). If Melo isn’t walking through that door, they absolutely have to have a transfer portal presence. They got a taste last night vs. (Illinois).”

Yikes. That’s certainly a blunt assessment of where Fraschilla thinks the program is. He brings up an interesting point with the lack of transfers. Syracuse’s only one this season is Mounir Hima, who has done a nice job as the backup center, but he isn’t a game changer by any means.

Last season, that was the strategy. SU brought in Jimmy Boeheim, Cole Swider and Symir Torrence, veterans who had all established themselves, to different degrees, at the collegiate level. Coupled with that transfer class, the Orange went light in the recruiting sector, with Benny Williams being the only member of the freshman class. This year was the opposite. Syracuse only brought in one transfer, but signed six freshmen. 

That being said, it seems like Syracuse being shut out of the high-end players in the transfer portal is not a matter of roster construction. Jim Boeheim said on his weekly radio segment that the portal was a “money game.”

“The transfer portal is definitely something you have to consider. You just have to make sure you can get in there, and be competitive when you get in there,” the Hall of Famer added.

In case we needed more evidence of Syracuse athletics falling behind the upper echelon of schools around the country. This is the new reality of college sports. The prevalence of NIL isn’t a trend, it’s the new way that teams can get better quickly, and it’s not going anywhere.

Syracuse needs to look no further than the team it lost to on Tuesday. Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. spent three years at Texas Tech before joining the Illini. He’s averaging almost 20 points per game, the highest mark on the team by over eight points, and shooting over 40% from three. Shannon had a game high 17 points against the Orange.

That’s the type of immediate impact that transfers can have, as opposed to freshmen who, except for a handful every year, have some sort of acclimation period. For a program which, as Fraschilla said, doesn’t have a ton of talent, it’s a must to be active in the portal.

But, there’s the obstacle of NIL. Adam Weitsman’s million-dollar deal for a football and a basketball recruit will help down the line, but the immediate future looks to be more of the same.

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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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