NCAA Basketball Season Preview: Syracuse Orange (Big East)
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When Wesley Johnson turned into the second coming of Carmelo Anthony the Orange became one of the great teams in the country last season. They are always good but they became special losing only four games before getting ousted by Butler in the Tourney. They lost three key performers off that team including Johnson and are again lying in wait in the lower half of the top 25.
This year’s Syracuse team will be relying on some role players becoming stars if they want to match last year’s success. The roster is full of good players but when you lose your leading scorer, rebounder and shooter obviously things are going to change. Throw in a Fab-ulous freshman and this team should still be very good.
Fab Melo – A top centre prospect form Brazil whose game reminds of the Big East days of old.
Dion Waiters – An athletic two with lots of room to grow his game.
Wesley Johnson – Was probably the best wing player in the country last year.
Andy Rautins – A deep shooter that will be deeply missed.
Arinze Onuaku – Anchored their 2-3 zone with toughness and cleaned up the garbage on the glass.
Kris Joseph – Last year’s super sub could well become a super star.
Brandon Triche – They need Triche to continue to increase production with more minutes and responsibility
Scoop Jardine – The same goes for Jardine, the backcourt needs to step up.
Surprising Stat – The Orange under Jim Boeheim aren’t known for lighting up the scoreboard but last year was a different story. Without making any style changes they leaped to 7th in the nation in scoring. That pace will be difficult to keep up with their personnel losses this year.
Strengths – Structure. When you have a coach that has been around as long as Boeheim you know what you are going to get. His players know the system and work with it, there is little freelancing. His commitment to the 2-3 zone enables Syracuse to get away with a short rotation, maximizing the elite players on the roster.
Weaknesses – Leadership. The Orange usually have a signature player that sets the tone for the team. Guys like Gerry McNamara and Andy Rautins are not necessarily the best players on the team but they fill important roles and produce. Jardine and Triche are comfortable with each other but will they be able to handle it if one steps up into a leadership role.
Post Season – For sure. This team has everything you need to be successful and will qualify for the Madness. One win for sure after that it will depend on matchups
Projected wins 24-26
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