What's Next for Syracuse Following Loss to Michigan in 2013 Final Four?
Jim Boeheim's quest for national title No. 2 met its demise Saturday against Michigan on a night when three-pointers wouldn't fall and star point guard Michael Carter-Williams came up small. Syracuse entered intermission trailing by 11 points and saw its late comeback bid come up empty in a 61-56 loss to the Wolverines.
The Final Four oust is Boeheim's third time falling shy of a national title after reaching this round. The Orange struggled to create offense throughout the evening and a lauded zone defense looked pedestrian at times against an impressive Michigan offensive effort.
The curtain closes on a roller-coaster season. Syracuse emerged as an early national title favorite, before faltering down the final stretch of the regular season and eventually rebounding in time for postseason tournament action.
The Orange enter the offseason facing crossroads in several areas. Here's what the near future has in store for Syracuse.
Season in Review
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After opening the season 18-1, the Orange struggled mightily during the latter stages of the regular season. Syracuse lost seven of its final 12 games before regaining its footing in the Big East tournament.
The Orange came within one victory of a fourth matchup against conference rival Louisville, who bested Syracuse in the conference tourney title game. Boeheim's bunch surprised prognosticators with a series of impressive victories over the course of fierce March competition.
The team overcame top-seeded Indiana and Big East foe Marquette en route to Saturday night's showdown with Michigan. Coach Jim Boeheim is nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career and it's anybody's guess when he ultimately decides to hang up the clipboard.
He has spent every season since 1969 on the Syracuse sidelines, so expect to hear mounting questions about his future with a program he helped build into a perennial power.
Syracuse must replace senior James Southerland
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Michael Carter-Williams has been pegged as a potential lottery pick throughout much of his sophomore season and, for the most part, he lived up to lofty expectations. The rangy point guard ranked among national leaders in assists and steals, supplying Boeheim's zone scheme with a perimeter defensive stalwart.
However, Carter-Williams does have a glaring weakness that should devalue him in the eyes of NBA scouts and potentially persuade the star to return to Syracuse for his junior season. He simply isn't an impressive scorer, finishing the year shooting under 40 percent from the floor.
Carter-Williams was nearly invisible against Michigan in the biggest game of his career. He managed just two points, six field-goal attempts and suffered five turnovers.
Still, it seems likely Carter-Williams is destined to play at the professional level next season due to his immensely high ceiling. Expect a decision to come quickly.
Seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland were the team's second- and third-leading scorers, respectively, so they certainly leave a substantial void.
Junior forward C.J. Fair, who led the Orange with 22 points against Louisville, could also be swayed to bail for the NBA.
Will C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams make a leap to the NBA?
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Despite the case we laid out in the previous slide for Carter-Williams and Fair to forgo the remainder of their collegiate eligibility, each player could certainly opt to stick with the Orange for another season. Even if only one of the duo stayed at Syracuse, that player would be counted on to lead the squad into the 2014 postseason tournament as a catalyst on both ends of the court.
The team's frontcourt appears to be in good shape for the foreseeable future, as sophomore Rakeem Christmas and freshmen Jerami Grant and DaJuan Coleman create a formidable interior. Junior center Baye Keita remains a predominately raw project but should make a greater impact in 2013.
Incoming Recruiting Class
Could Tyler Ennis lead the Orange into the ACC? (msgvarsity.com)
Even if Carter-Williams opts to fly the coop, Tyler Ennis is waiting in the wings. The northern New Jersey basketball star is considered one of the country's prodigious point guard prospects of his class and could slide right into the lineup from day one.
New Hampshire guard Ron Patterson adds immediate backcourt depth but shouldn't be counted on to see substantial game action.