In less than a month, the Syracuse Orange will start their 113th season of college basketball, yet they find themselves new kids on the block.
Looking to add to its NCAA-record 42 consecutive winning seasons, Syracuse enters the ACC after a trip to the Final Four and a mass exodus from the Big East.
Since that trip, however, Syracuse has lost James Southerland and Brandon Triche to graduation and Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA draft. The Orange believe they have a replacement for Carter-Williams in Tyler Ennis, but the loss of Triche's leadership and Southerland's marksmanship left a few holes to be filled.
Forgetting the roster gaps, the Orange have had a successful recruiting campaign but still have a little ways to go. Brooklyn prodigy guard Isaiah Whitehead shunned Syracuse, Indiana and a few other schools for Seton Hall in what seems to be a deal to get Whitehead’s high school coach, Tiny Morton, a future job at Seton Hall.
Making no such deals, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim still has one scholarship to offer a member of the class of 2014, but time is of the essence.
Beyond recruiting, Syracuse had a few boxes that needed to be checked off in the offseason.
Here’s a look at the Orange’s unresolved business.
For more than 30 years, Syracuse and Georgetown played as bitter foes in the Big East Conference.
From John Thompson announcing the closing of Manley Field House to last season’s farewell tour, every season of the rivalry was magical.
And now it’s over…or is it?
The Post-Standard has reported that the two schools are in negotiations and could soon agree to a 10-year contract to keep the rivalry alive.
This is good news for both schools, as many loves come and go, but you never forget your first hate.
James Southerland is gone.
Trevor Cooney struggled to make his threes consistently last season.
Other than C.J. Fair, who led Syracuse with 47 percent shooting from beyond the arc in limited attempts, Cooney will be the guy. But he’s not as alone as we’ve been led to believe.
Freshman B.J. Johnson is getting some hype as a good shooter and somewhat of a gym rat, so perhaps there is hope that along with having the weight of the outside shooting world on Cooney’s shoulder, perhaps Johnson can be something more than an understudy.
The 6’7” left-hander has the height and length to get his shot off, so shot selection may end up being his only obstacle.
The jury is still out on Cooney, but he is only a sophomore and has plenty of room to grow, as Michael Gbinije, who was going to be Cooney’s backup, is being prepared more as a backup to Tyler Ennis, who has no help at the point guard spot.
Tyler Ennis has a great responsibility as the only true point guard for the Orange, and if the four exhibition games Syracuse played in Canada are any indication, he’s going to fit in just fine.
But on defense, he’s part of a moving unit and will have to be a quick study in the nuances of the 2-3 zone.
The other four projected starters—C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Trevor Cooney—all have experience and are proficient in the zone.
Ennis’ predecessor, Michael Carter-Williams, thrived in the zone and was in the top five in the nation in steals last season. Ennis gives up four inches to Carter-Williams, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a worse defender. He’ll just have to work as hard as he can, because other teams know that if there is going to be a weak link at the top of the zone, it would be Ennis, as Cooney was a decent defender when given the opportunity.
Syracuse already has commitments from star players Chris McCullough and Kaleb Joseph, making the class of 2014 look very nice, but after being denied by such standouts as Andrew Wiggins and Isaiah Whitehead, among others, Syracuse still has one more scholarship to give out to the class of 2014.
A few players have shown interest in Syracuse, but no one of substance as of yet.
We’ll keep you posted.
Last season, at Syracuse’s homage to midnight madness, dubbed “Orange Madness,” a 25-year-old man was stabbed.
The event, held at the Carrier Dome, was free to the public, and the crowd was reported to be around 15,000 people.
New security measures are in place this season to help prevent any nasty situations, but security can’t be everywhere. The university announced that students would still be admitted for free to the October 18 event, but non-season ticket holders would be charged $5 to keep it reasonable, but also keep out a few no-goodniks.
This is a great event for students and fans, and hopefully this year’s event goes off without a hitch.