Syracuse Basketball: 5 Effects Roster Changes Will Have on Orange in 2014
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Many people struggle with change, preferring the comfort that comes with what's familiar. This is why franchises do so well with diners.
Well, if you're a fan of the Syracuse Orange, to paraphrase a skit from the '60s' hit variety show, Laugh-In, "Here come da change."
I can't recall an Orange roster turning over so many players in one season. Gone are James Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams and fixture Brandon Triche. Triche started more games (146) and won more games (121) than any player in the history of Syracuse basketball.
Arriving this fall is an outstanding freshman class:
- Tyler Ennis: PG
- Ron Patterson: SG
- B.J. Johnson: SF
- Tyler Roberson: PF
- Chinonso Obokoh: C
Also here after a season of just practicing is Duke transfer Mike Gbinije, a shooting guard/small forward.
So we've established there will be big changes for the Orange in 2013-14. What we're here to examine is the effects those roster changes will have on the team next season. Here's my list ranked in order of impact.
Team Switches from Perimeter-Based Offense to Emphasis on Front Line
Fair will be the man.
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Gone with Southerland, Carter-Williams and Triche are 38.8 points per game, which represents 55 percent of the team's 70-point-per-game total. Those three did most of their damage from the outside with virtually nothing coming inside from anyone not named C.J. Fair.
That won't do in 2013-14.
Fair returns after leading the team with 14.5 points per game. He will not only have to score more this season, he will have to do it with the spotlight shining brightly and directly on him.
Fair will need help that has to come from two big former McDonald's All-Americans. Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman have to score more than 5.1 and 4.8 points per game.
Their size, athleticism and skills indicate they should be up to meeting that challenge. The issue will be whether or not they can be on the court enough to score enough. Christmas needs to avoid foul trouble, and Coleman has to do a better job on the defensive end of the court.
This year there will be points coming off the bench up front. Jerami Grant and Tyler Roberson should get enough minutes to make an impact.
Southerland and Triche will be missed.
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The 2013-14 Orange roster will be much less experienced than its predecessor. What impact will that have?
Team chemistry is a funny thing. One never knows whether a roster will become a team. Will its whole be more than the sum of its parts?
Southerland, Carter-Williams and Triche not only took points with them, they took a lot of knowledge and leadership. Last year's team also had experienced C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita.
This year's starting lineup will most likely include inexperienced Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney and DaJuan Coleman. Big contributions off the bench will be expected from Tyler Roberson and Mike Gbinije.
It remains to be seen who will step forward and lead this team. While Fair will shoulder the load on the offensive end of the court, he seems to be the lead-by-example type.
Will that be enough?
Will the team respond to freshman point guard Tyler Ennis?
The answer to both of those questions should prove to be yes.
Backup Point Guard
Will Cooney handle the point?
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Michael Carter-Williams' departure not only gives the Orange a new point guard, it leaves them without a proven backup.
Brandon Triche actually handled the ball a lot with Carter-Williams in the game and was more than capable of running the show when MCW went to the bench. Triche started at point guard his freshman year.
Freshman Tyler Ennis will have to run the offense this year, and no one else in the backcourt has point guard capabilities. Trevor Cooney and Ron Patterson are shooting guards. While Mike Gbinije might see some time at guard, it's a stretch to think any of that time can be at point.
It will take some practice time to determine who might spell Ennis. The most likely candidate is Cooney.
Here's hoping Ennis stays healthy and out of foul trouble.
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The 2012-13 Syracuse Orange made it to the Final Four on the strength of their 2-3 zone defense. That defense will look a lot different next season.
Michael Carter-Williams' length at 6'6" was a major force at the top of the zone. He excelled at jumping the passing lanes and averaged 2.8 steals per game. Brandon Triche, at 6'4" and 210 pounds, was a beast up top with the strength to fight through screens.
MCW will be replaced up top by the 6'2" Ennis and Triche by Trevor Cooney. The top of the zone will lose height and experience and put more pressure on the back line.
Just like Fab Melo in his freshman year, DaJuan Coleman saw his minutes limited by his inability to grasp the intricacies of the zone.The best offensive center on the team spent most of his time on the bench, and that hurt a team that struggled to score inside.
Coleman will have to step up, and Rakeem Christmas will have to adjust to more time on the wing. He will have to learn when to come out and how to switch effectively.
While Jerami Grant will come off the bench with experience in the zone, Tyler Roberson, B.J. Johnson and Chinonso Obokoh will be playing in this defense for the first time.
Let's hope they grasp it quicker than some of their big predecessors.
Much Deeper Bench
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Last year's team had 10 scholarship players, but with Mike Gbinije redshirting, only nine available to play. The reality is that Baye Moussa Keita was the only reserve who got consistent playing time. Jerami Grant and Trevor Cooney got spotty minutes, and DaJuan Coleman barely played after his surgery.
This year's team will have 12 scholarship players, with all available to play. Jim Boeheim has generally settled on two or three players who get significant time off the bench. Year after year, it appears the Orange are deep, and yet the venerable Boeheim manages to limit his subs to two or three.
Will he do so again in 2013-14?
It would seem that Keita and Grant will get reserve minutes up front. Tyler Roberson comes in with an impressive resume and should push for playing time. Mike Gbinije has spent a year practicing with the team and should also get some minutes, either at small forward or shooting guard.
I am not sure about the minutes for B.J. Johnson and Chinonso Obokoh. I would think their playing time will depend on their effort on defense and off the glass.
Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney should be the starting backcourt. Gbinije will get some time there with the question seeming to be how much time freshman Ron Patterson will get.
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