It’s been a long week for the Syracuse men’s basketball program. Just seven days ago, the Orange were taking on Wake Forest in round two of the ACC Tournament, and despite losing on a buzzer-beating three for the second time in three years, it doesn’t matter. Jim Boeheim then gave a very cryptic postgame press conference, and mere hours later Adrian Autry was Syracuse’s new head coach.
Then, on Friday, Boeheim gave his official retirement speech (technically his second according to himself) and then Autry spoke, with each man speaking glowingly of the other, and the impact each of them has had on their careers. Following that, Autry, Gerry McNamara (Syracuse’s new Associate Head Coach), and Allen Griffin headed out recruiting on the high school trail, and when the transfer portal opened on Monday, the real news broke.
J.J. Starling entered the portal on Monday after a single season at Notre Dame, and Orange fans collectively lost their minds. Usually, when this happens, SU loses out, but almost immediately, crystal balls and predictions flooded in for Autry and Syracuse. By Tuesday morning, Starling announced he was “coming home”, and the Autry era was off to a raucous start, and the Orange have infused much-needed talent into their roster with a former five-star.
With that news, Symir Torrence joined John Bol Ajak as the only members of the Orange to enter the portal, but no one else has announced their intentions yet. Based on the swiftness of the Starling news and decision, Autry seems to not be taking any prisoners when it comes to remaking this roster, and as the lead recruiter, players with prior relationships to SU’s new head coach are taking notice.
All this is to say that Syracuse is feeling good about itself, at least for the time being. The Orange haven’t had this kind of talent in the backcourt (if Judah Mintz returns) in a long time. Two top-60 players are not the kind of roster SU has had over the past few seasons, and if the Orange can retain talent on the roster but continue to fill out positions of need to fit Autry’s new system, then Syracuse might be a destination again.
Yes, it’s early, but it’s hard not to be optimistic after how badly the last couple of seasons have gone, and with a new voice and new face in charge, Autry can start to implement some of the new ideas he spoke about in his press conference last week. Plus, with McNamara and Griffin back to provide continuity on the staff, player development, and recruiting can hopefully take a step forward, and with a very young group, assuming most of the return, the Orange can take a step forward next season.
There’s a lot more work to be done for Syracuse to get back to a place where it can compete on the national stage, and even just at the top of the ACC, but the Autry era is off to a good start, and there’s positive momentum in Central New York, something that hasn’t existed in a while.