The Adrian Autry era is off to a roaring start for Syracuse. He’s brought back his assistant coaches and is in the process of hiring another one, and he hasn’t lost any significant contributors so far. Yes, Symir Torrence and John Bol Ajak are in the portal and were valuable members of SU during their times in Orange, but nobody is crying a river that they won’t be playing for Syracuse next season.
Oh, and let’s not forget to mention Autry landing J.J. Starling, a former five-star recruit who is transferring from Notre Dame and will add another dimension of athleticism and talent to SU’s roster. Speaking of which, that’s something that’s been lacking lately for the Orange. In each of the last few seasons, SU has been hamstrung by players who are good/great at doing very specific things but don’t have the skill set to be good at several things. Players like Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard are terrific scorers and shooters but lack the athleticism at the defensive end, plus playmaking for others offensively.
The Orange have lost players that do multiple things well, like Quincy Guerrier, who scored, rebounded, and played solid enough defense on the wing of the zone. Looking at just this past season, Syracuse really only had two well-rounded players, Judah Mintz and Jesse Edwards who excelled at multiple things. Mintz is a playmaker, ball-handler, and a good defender, there’s a reason he was awarded multiple ACC accolades throughout the year. Edwards is a terrific shot-blocker, finisher, and rebounds well, which is why he was the only Syracuse player on an All-ACC team this year.
The rest of the team is guys who do one or two things well. Justin Taylor and Chris Bell can shoot and score, but not much else, Maliq Brown can rebound and defend, but his offensive game needs work, Quadir Copeland has the skills to become one of these well-rounded players, but he’s early in his development. Benny Williams did not do much well during the majority of ACC play, but showed flashes of being a scorer and rebounder down the stretch, and paired with his athleticism that’s a dangerous combo.
So, if Syracuse wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament and build the program back, it needs more players who do multiple things well and have the athleticism to compete with top-caliber teams like Mintz or Starling and develop guys like Copeland and Williams to reach that level. There will certainly be more roster turnover both in and out for SU this spring, but it’s clear Autry has a vision of playing fast, free, and with tempo. That’s a welcome sight for fans sick of SU’s stagnant half-court offense at times.
As Autry said in his opening press conference, he’s someone who bleeds orange, but he’s a new face with new ideas and a vision for what this program can become under his watchful eye, and right now, he’s started to get the snowball rolling on what that is, just weeks into his tenure. But, there’s still certainly plenty of room to grow, and there’s no doubt Autry is on the right track.