Orange Fizz


Which Coach is Primed for More Success in 2023, Autry or Babers?

March 2023 has been one of the busiest months in a long time for Syracuse University Athletics. To begin the month, the men’s basketball season ended and Jim Boeheim was replaced by Adrian Autry after 47 years as head coach. Syracuse women’s basketball narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament and is now dominating the WNIT. Syracuse men’s lacrosse retired another #22 and is back to its winning ways in hopes of getting back to the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse women’s lacrosse is the top-ranked team in the country and is off to its best start in program history at 10-0. Finally, Syracuse football is back practicing, and preparing its standouts for the NFL Draft, where offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron is hoping to become Syracuse’s highest-drafted player since Justin Pugh went 19th overall in 2013, ten years ago.

But, with all the commotion now, it’s not too early to look ahead. There have been significant off-season changes with Syracuse’s top two programs in terms of coaching, the roster, and a variety of other factors. Dino Babers had to replace both of his coordinators and fill holes left by the transfer portal and draft. Autry is trying to follow arguably the most famous alum in the university’s history and bring back what once was a storied program, all while navigating NIL, the portal, and keeping his staff intact.

Both coaches have made big additions to their squads in the portal, and have promoted coaches to new roles. Babers immediately made quarterbacks coach Jason Beck his new offensive coordinator when Robert Anae went to NC State, and Autry made Gerry McNamara his associate head coach, the same role he served before becoming the head man. 

In the portal, Autry has added former five-star J.J. Starling via Notre Dame, a player he attempted to bring to SU out of high school, and is seemingly working on bringing in other names via the portal to fit his new system. Babers brought in Jaeden Gould from Nebraska and Jayden Bellamy from Notre Dame to fill holes in the secondary left by Duce Chestnut (LSU), Garrett Williams (NFL), and Ja’Had Carter (Ohio State).

But, the key to each of these rosters lies within who is running the show. For Babers’ squad, that’s how Garrett Shrader can return from right arm surgery he underwent during the offseason. Shrader battled nagging injuries last season but made it through the year. He’ll have to take things to another level in 2023 for SU to get back to a bowl game.

For Autry, it’s who is starting at guard next to Starling. Judah Mintz declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining his eligibility to return earlier in the week. If he were to fill that spot, that would make for one of the best backcourts in the country. Joe Girard III could decide to return, but that would probably be at the expense of Mintz, or the would-be fifth-year guard would have to likely come off the bench in an entirely new role. Girard is probably best served transferring to a place he can play more minutes if that is the case.

Internally, Quadir Copeland and Justin Taylor highlight Syracuse’s other options, but that feels like s stretch at this point, with both players still needing some more time to develop into who they can be at the college level. That said, the biggest jumps likely come between years one and two, so it could happen but unlikely.

A likelier scenario seems to be bringing in another guard via the transfer portal. Autry wants to play fast, free, and move the ball, which would make bringing in a veteran point guard smart. There are plenty of names on the market like Chuck Harris from Butler, or Primo Spears and Denver Anglin from Georgetown. It remains to be seen what will happen, but that seems to be a scenario that could play out.

Overall, both teams still have a lot of questions to answer. We’ll find out how Syracuse’s roster looks when Mintz makes his decision on staying or going, and when Shrader returns to practice over the summer (he won’t play in the spring game on April 21st). Babers and Autry have the potential for good years but have to prove they have the right pieces to succeed next season.

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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