The reigning Big East regular season champions will have a tough task in front of them if they want to repeat as champions. The Big East is one of the most competitive conferences in college basketball, and repeating as regular season champions is a near impossible task for any program.
The Orange lost a lot of talent in the past season, but they still have enough talent to be one of the top teams in the country. However, there are still several obstacles that the team must overcome to live up to their potential.
Here are five of the Orange's main issues in the upcoming season.
Michael Carter-Williams takes over the starting point guard role for Scoop Jardine for the Orange next season. Cater-Williams is a sophomore with very little playing experience.
Carter-Williams looked extremely uncomfortable last season during his limited playing time, which could lead to a disaster.
He has the size and the talent to be one of the top point guards in the country, but he does not have the confidence or the knowledge of the game to live up to his potential.
Orange fans are used to a steady hand at the point guard position over the last few seasons, but there will be some ups and downs next season.
Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph provided much needed leadership last season for the Orange. However, with both Scoop and Kris leaving for the NBA, there is a big void in terms of leadership.
The team features two scholarship seniors next season in James Southerland and Brandon Triche. Neither James, nor Brandon are vocal leaders, which could lead to some problems on the floor.
If one of the underclassmen does not step-up and become a vocal leader, look for the Orange to struggle in tough environments next season.
Last year Fab Melo was one of the best centers in the Big East. Fab was ruled in-eligible for the NCAA tournament, and therefore declared for the NBA draft.
Melo's departure left a void in Syracuse's starting five. However, there are a few candidates to fill the starting center role. These candidates are Rakeem Christmas, Dajauan Coleman and Baye Keita.
None of these candidates are ready to take on Syracuse's starting center, but if I were to choose one it would have to be Rakeem Christmas. Rakeem is ready to start on the defensive end, but he is no where near ready on the offensive end of the court.
Look for the Orange to struggle to score from the center position this coming season.
The Orange have just two scholarship seniors on the roster for next season, which in it self is a cause for concern. In addition, they have three freshman and two sophomores that are expected to make a contribution this upcoming season.
Relying on players that have little to no playing experience is a serious problem, especially when the team is entering hostile Big East environments. Relating back to my earlier points, the non-existent leadership presence will also not help the lack of experience of some of the players that will be expected to contribute on a regular basis.
Louisville is expected to be one of the top teams in the country next season. Louisville reached the final four last season, and they return three main contributors in Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, and Wayne Blackshear.
The Cardinals are the heavy favorites to win the Big East, and the Orange will have a difficult time taking that title from them. Syracuse must beat the Cardinals one of the two times that they meet, and have a nearly perfect Big East record to out preform Louisville.
Unlike last season, Syracuse has a real competitor in the Big East title chase.