How early is it permissible to speculate on the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team’s chances for another run at the Final Four?
Let’s go with now.
Syracuse, after bidding adieu to the Big East for the more stable shores of the ACC, is loaded for bear but will need to fill some significant shoes in the upcoming season.
Gone are seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland, the latter of whom was the only serious three-point threat on the Orange roster.
Also gone is Michael Carter-Williams, who has declared himself for the NBA Draft and is a possible No. 7 pick for the Sacramento Kings or could fall out of the lottery altogether.
After a 30-10 campaign and a trip to the Final Four in which the Orange lost a heartbreaker to Michigan, Syracuse will have a different look. The past few Orange teams have been guard-heavy with great support from the forwards. This year’s incarnation should be more forward-oriented and a lot more physical.
Student athletes returning to the Orange include seniors C.J. Fair and Baye Keita, junior Rakeem Christmas and sophomores Jerami Grant, Trevor Cooney and DaJuan Coleman. Not to be forgotten are Michael Gbinije, a Duke transfer who could see time as both a shooting guard and a small forward, and Tyler Ennis, the blue-chip recruit who will be asked to step into the role of point guard for the new Orange.
Joining Ennis as a starter in the backcourt should be Cooney. With Cooney listed at 6’4” and Ennis speculated at 6’2”, the Orange will lose the height and experience of Triche and Carter-Williams, but all is not lost in coach Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.
With a year to play zone against a conference that isn’t used to seeing the Syracuse zone, the Orange may be able to do some on-the-job training. With the leadership of C.J. Fair and the assumed progress of his frontcourt, there doesn’t even have to be a drop off for the Orange.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that Syracuse could still be considered a contender for the 2013-14 season.