Losing two of the most veteran leaders in Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine to graduation hurts. Even worse is losing two of your most impact sophomore players on the offense and defense in Dion Waiters and Fab Melo to the NBA draft. You might think there is no way this Syracuse team can compete for a national championship.
You are dead wrong.
Let me to tell you why this Syracuse team will not only compete for a title but win it all. It starts with what the Orange already have from last year, and that is depth.
The team did have 10 players last year that averaged at least 10 minutes a game, and Syracuse has six of those 10 coming back in the 2012-2013 season.
From left to right: James Southerland, MCW, and CJ Fair
In the backcourt, sophomore Michael Carter-Williams (MCW) will assume the role of point guard and has showed an uncanny ability to find teammates. He will look to find the jump-shooting senior duo of three-year starter Brandon Triche and James Southerland, who both really stepped up in this year's NCAA tournament.
At small forward, C.J. Fair will continue where he left off last season as the stat-sheet stuffer for Syracuse.
In the frontcourt, Syracuse will return combo power forward/center Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita. Both are defensive specialists, and Christmas will take the same leap of productivity that Fab Melo made from his freshman to sophomore season.
With the above returning starters and experience, you would say Syracuse will still be pretty solid. However, let me tell you why they will go from a solid team to great.
Trevor Cooney, who was redshirted last season, will be the deadly jump-shooting three-point specialist Syracuse was desperately in need of last season.
Another freshman is 6'10'' and 280 pound center/forward, former Jamesville Dewitt star DeJuan Coleman.
Coleman will contribute immediately as his physical tools and his ability to rebound the ball should provide a nice contrast to the more aggressive shot-blockers he could be playing alongside or in lieu of on the back line of Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone.
Meanwhile, another freshman forward who is 6'8''—and just happens to be the son of long-time NBA champion Horace Grant—is Jerami Grant.
Grant goes up high to get rebounds and has great bloodlines as his father and uncle played in the NBA. I like him as a potential face-up 4 man with the ability to get things done with his length and skills around the rim.
Noel's list is down to three teams that include Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown. If Syracuse is able to get Noel, then Syracuse definitely will have one of the most lethal frontcourts in college basketball.
Noel also happened to play high school ball with Michael Carter-Williams, and the two are best friends.
Noel is the No. 1 recruit out of this year's high school class and reminds scouts of NCAA Player of the Year Anthony Davis on the defensive end with an amazing ability to block shots and play tenacious defense.
Noel is great in the paint and can make jump hooks with ease from both sides. He needs a little more development to his offensive game, and no coach in the county is better at developing big men than Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. Noel is much better than Fab Melo and will bring a title back to Syracuse.
The 2-3 zone defense is traditionally set up to keep the opposing offense out of the paint and force shots from the outside.
However, when you have freakishly long, athletic players—which Syracuse does—then coach Jim Boeheim and his staff implement a very aggressive 2-3 zone that can trap teams, especially the point guard, leading to turnovers and steals for Syracuse for transition points.
This is one of the main reasons Syracuse can always compete in the NCAA tournament. Most teams can't compete against a team that will trap you on the wings and corners.
Syracuse's ability to trap in the 2-3 zone is the reason the team was among the nation's leaders in forcing turnovers, getting steals, and transition points. The Orange will dominate college basketball in 2013 with even taller and more athletic players.
The guy has nine regular season Big East championships, which means Syracuse will more than likely win the Big East regular season outright again. He also has five Big East Tournament Championships, so if he can't get it done in the regular season, you can bet he will get it done in tournament play.
He also has made 29 NCAA tournament appearances in 36 seasons, getting to the national title game three times and winning it all back in 2003 with another freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony.
He has a career record of 890-305 and is currently in third place on the wins list of NCAA Division I coaches. He is just as successful in the NCAA tournament with a one-and-done scenario at 46-27. He also won a gold medal in the Olympics coaching NBA players.
Moreover, Jim Boeheim will win more titles before his time is done, and that next championship will be in 2013.