Syracuse Basketball: Strengths and Weaknesses of Orange's 2013-14 Roster
The Syracuse Orange are fresh off a Final Four appearance and are looking for another in the 2013-14 season—and this roster will help.
Jim Boeheim lost another five players at the end of last season, including sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who could be a lottery pick (h/t Matt McClusky of SB Nation).
However, he brings in five recruits who make up the No. 6 class in the nation, according to ESPN, and another talented player in Duke transfer Michael Gbinije.
Syracuse has a talented bunch of guys again this year, but there are still various strengths and weaknesses that come with the overall lineup.
Let's take a look at them.
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Talk about depth.
Syracuse returns 11 players from last year's Final Four squad, brings in five new, talented recruits and adds Gbinije as a transfer. For those of you counting along at home, that leaves the team with 17 players with a legitimate chance of making an impact.
With a nice mixture of size, speed, quickness and athleticism, Syracuse's new roster has the ability to match up with any other team in the country.
Depth has helped Boeheim's crew to quite a bit of success in the past, and we can expect more of the same this season.
Weakness: Backcourt Depth
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While Syracuse has one of the deepest teams in the country, most of the guys making up that depth are wings and big men.
The Orange have just three guys who can play well in the backcourt. True freshman Tyler Ennis will start at point guard, while sophomore Trevor Cooney will take over at shooting guard. After that, the team is left with freshman Ron Patterson at shooting guard.
While 6'7" Gbinije could potentially switch roles and play shooting guard, he is a natural wing and won't be able to extend the defense as a shooter. According to ESPN, Gbinije's range only extends out to about 20 feet, so he won't be a three-point threat.
With only three true guards in the backcourt, the Orange may even need walk-on players Nolan Hart and Russ DeRemer to play if injury strikes.
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As always, Syracuse is going to be one of the most athletic teams in the country.
Boeheim specifically recruits some of the top athletes in the nation, and he's brought in a fresh crop of them for this season.
Guys like Gbinije, Jerami Grant, Rakeem Christmas, Ennis, C.J. Fair, Tyler Roberson and more give this team the ability to play a unique up-tempo style.
Not only do the athletes help the team run the floor, but they will make sure that Syracuse's 2-3 zone remains one of the best defenses in college basketball.
Weakness: Question Mark at Center
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Syracuse has three players who can play the center position: Christmas, Baye Moussa Keita and DaJuan Coleman. These three guys could all conceivably be the starter by the end of the year, but this leaves a big question mark on the roster sheet.
One of the biggest reasons why the center position is a question mark is because of what I like to call the "Fab Melo Expectation."
Melo didn't play much during his freshman year, despite being a highly touted recruit. However, in his sophomore year, he played incredibly well and became a first-round draft pick.
This is now what has become expected of top recruits at the center position at Syracuse. Fans were wondering if Christmas would go through the transformation last year, but his offense remains a problem. Now it is Coleman's turn to try to make the jump as he enters his sophomore season, but Christmas might just be a late bloomer.
One of these centers should step up and improve drastically, but right now, the center position is a big question mark.
Strength: Plethora of Forwards
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Syracuse's depth, but lack of guards leaves the team with a ton of talented forwards.
Led by Fair, the team has six forwards who can make a big impact next season. Incoming freshman Tyler Roberson is a freakish athlete who can drive to the hoop with ease, and he's going to be sitting behind Fair and sophomore Jerami Grant.
Gbinije gives the team four athletic wings who could start for almost any team in the country, which makes this the team's best position by far.
Weakness: Shooting Guard
Trevor Cooney? Really?
Call me a pessimist, but I can't exactly call Cooney a solid replacement for Brandon Triche. After averaging just 3.4 points per game on 32.2 percent shooting from the floor (26.7 percent from three), it's hard to trust the 6'4" gym rat.
The Orange have had a line of talented shooting guards, but it's unlikely that Cooney will continue that tradition.