Syracuse Basketball: 3 Reasons the Orange Will Win Big East Again
The Syracuse Orange only have one season remaining in the Big East. They will make it count.
Last season, the Orange finished in first place in the Big East standings but were ousted by the Cincinnati Bearcats in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
Although it was thought that Syracuse had slowed down, the Orange responded well to skepticism and pulled off one of the best records (34-3) in the NCAA. The 20-0 start to the season was the best start in school history, and the Orange were ranked at least as high as No. 2 by the AP polls from Week 6 until the end of the regular season.
Since last season, Syracuse has said goodbye to Scoop Jardine, Fab Melo, Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph.
However, even without these four, the Orange will be fine.
Some Orange fans believe that last year’s team was one of the best Syracuse teams to ever play. The Syracuse fanbase still has many reasons to be optimistic this year.
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One reason for Syracuse’s success last season was depth, which will also be a key asset this season.
Last year, nine players averaged over 10 minutes per game, and seven of them scored over six points per game.
Even though a few important scorers have left, others will fill the void. Michael Carter-Williams didn’t see much time last year. As a sophomore, however, his playing time will increase—especially with three of the four players leaving being guards.
Rakeem Christmas didn’t play too much last year either, but the big man will fill the void left by Fab Melo.
The Orange also have DaJuan Coleman, the No. 26 recruit according to Rivals.com, who may see a good chunk of playing time.
It’s hard to predict which players will start and which ones will see the most playing time, because Jim Boeheim loves to switch things up.
What is known, though, is who the core players will be: Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, James Southerland, Christmas, Carter-Williams, Baye Keita and Coleman.
The great thing about having so many impact players is that if one has an off game, the others will still contribute.
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Jim Boeheim, who has been the Orange head coach for the last 35 years, will once again lead the team this season.
It’s hard to make seven to 10 players seem like superstars, but Boeheim is great at finding matchups and knowing which players to play in certain situations.
For example, Boeheim played Waiters and Southerland less than 15 minutes each in the Florida game last year. Then, about two weeks later against N.C. State, Waiters and Southerland saw an increase in playing time and combined for 33 points.
The hall of fame coach’s 890 wins are the third most in the history of NCAA Division I basketball. Soon he will pass the retired Bobby Knight, who sits in second place with 902 wins.
Boeheim’s famous 2-3 zone defense is another reason why he is on his way to the hall of fame.
With Boeheim behind the bench, the Orange will be on their way to another Big East Championship.
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Experience is an intangible that many NCAA basketball teams don’t have. The Orange, however, do have it.
It may seem like this team is young, with players like Carter-Williams, Christmas and Coleman, but the experience is still there.
Christmas saw a lot of playing time in the NCAA tournament last year with Melo ineligible to play. Carter-Williams got his share of playing time too, but not so much in the NCAA tournament.
The two sophomores already know what it’s like to play for a No. 1 ranked team, be in the NCAA tournament and be in the Big East tournament.
Add those two to Syracuse’s long list of upperclassmen and the experience is there.
The whole team, other than incoming freshmen, has already learned to deal with the media and off-court drama, due to the Bernie Fine saga last season.
Brandon Triche, James Southerland and the rest of the seniors have twice finished in first place in the conference. They have also never bowed out of the Big East tournament earlier than the quarterfinals.
This will provide the team with excellent leadership.
All this experience, though, is based around Jim Boeheim, who once played basketball for Syracuse himself. He now enters his 36th year as the team's head coach and is one of the most experienced coaches in the NCAA.