Syracuse Basketball: Predicting Orange's Biggest Overachievers for 2014
The Syracuse Orange are coming off of a Final Four appearance and are looking for a similar result in the upcoming 2013-14 campaign.
Jim Boeheim's crew lost four stars to the NBA, but five new recruits, one transfer and the development of last year's players will surely make up for that.
The way Syracuse will remain an elite team and contend in its first year in the ACC is to have a few guys play much better than expected.
Let's take a look at those future overachievers.
Duke transfer Michael Gbinije never quite fit in at Durham, posting 1.7 points and 0.8 rebounds per game in 5.8 minutes.
However, the versatile 6'7" wing will be used immediately at Syracuse, most likely in a depleted backcourt. He has the athleticism and quickness to play the 2, and if he has been working on his shot during his time off we could see him potentially start there for the Orange.
Gbinije is another great athlete who will work well in the 2-3 zone and put up some points on the offensive end right away, and coach Boeheim has spoken highly of him to The Post Standard.
The nice thing with Michael is he gives us some flexibility. We think he can play the two or the three and we played him in practice at the one just to get him used to that. You wouldn’t want him to play 20 minutes at point guard, but he could play there eight or 10 minutes very easily.
With such obvious skill and the attention of the man in charge, I expect Gbinije to play a big role for the Orange this season.
Syracuse's best incoming freshman also happens to be in line to start at point guard for the Orange.
After losing Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA, Syracuse's only options at point guard are Ennis and Trevor Cooney, and Ennis will surely win the job.
As a true point guard, Ennis is not quite the athlete that MCW was, but he is skilled and crafty enough to put up similar numbers. He hides the ball well and is very difficult to strip, and he also has incredible court vision and passing ability.
What really separates Ennis from MCW is his decision making. Ennis is a much smarter player who won't turn the ball over nearly as much, and I expect that to be a welcome change.
No one will improve from one season to the next for the Orange better than Jerami Grant will this year.
After riding the bench for much of last season he averaged just 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. However, when he was given the chance to start he was much more effective, and he put up double-digit points in five games last year.
Grant is a long, lanky wing at 6'9" and 210 pounds, and last year he showed that he can play well at the collegiate level.
He will be competing for a starting position this season, and even if he doesn't win one he will be playing quite a bit off the bench. I expect to see Grant put up big numbers this year when he gets playing time, and he will be a star for the Orange before he leaves.