Syracuse Men’s Basketball Season Preview
By Trey Redfield
It got knocked out later than expected, and it slept in May. But now, Syracuse men’s basketball has awoken.
Last season was a rollercoaster, to say the least. COVID-19 cases halted the Orange for a couple of weeks, fans never saw a game in the 315, SU was on the outside looking in before tourney time, but it turned out that same team made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.
But like I mentioned: last season. Changes have been made. New faces are on the block. Usual faces are out the door. Do the Orange improve, or do they not? The answers are here. Without further ado, here is CitrusTV’s Syracuse men’s basketball preview.
Sr. SG Buddy Boeheim – We all knew this was coming. Buddy Boeheim is the key returner. The senior is back for year four, after a dominant 17.8 points per game last season. Boeheim’s heroics shocked national waves in March. The shooting guard kept it going in Syracuse’s sweet sixteen run, scoring 22.3 points per game. From the jump, all eyes will be on Boeheim, who was selected to first team preseason All-ACC a couple of weeks ago.
Jr. PG Joe Girard – Inconsistent is probably the best word to describe Girard’s sophomore campaign. The Glens Falls native would score over 20 in one game, but normally followed it up with less than five. But when the NCAA Tournament came around – and some fans returned – Girard averaged 12 points per game. With the Dome welcoming a full capacity this season, Girard could have himself a more of a home-court advantage.
Jr. C Jesse Edwards – The stats may not show it, but Edwards’ size is massive in preventing the 2-3 zone from collapsing. The Dutch averaged less than two points per game. But, with Marek Dolezaj going pro and Bourama Sidibe out with a knee injury for about a month, Edwards is expected to see significant playing time alongside the Orange backcourt. The junior also gained 15 pounds, something to look out for down low.
Gr. F Jimmy Boeheim – There’s more than just Jim and Buddy playing in Syracuse this season. Boeheim comes from Cornell, who did not play in 2020 due to the Ivy League canceling its season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the forward led the team in points per game (16.7), rebounds per game (5.6) and three pointers made (31). Expect Boeheim to get good minutes in the frontcourt of the 2-3 zone.
Sr. F Cole Swider – Talk about leaving the dark side. Swider comes from Villanova – a former Big East foe SU will face on December 7 in this year’s Jimmy V Classic. Swider averaged a little under 19 minutes per game with the Wildcats, but made an early impression in the Orange’s exhibition against Pace. The senior scored 21 points, shooting eight for ten from the field in the win. If you thought the shooting arsenal for SU peaked last year, think again.
Fr. F Benny Williams – Two words: five stars. Just like Edwards, Williams comes from IMG Academy, where he averaged 16.3 points per game, along with 6 rebounds per game for the Ascenders. The 6’8” forward can drive inside, shoot from mid-range and beyond the arc – a big key to Syracuse making a run. Look out for the depth in the frontcourt. Jim Boeheim has – when healthy – five strong options, in Boeheim, Swider, Edwards, Sidibe and Edwards.
So. PG Kadary Richmond – It’s not all pots of gold and rainbows this season for the Orange. Richmond packed his bags for Seton Hall, leaving Syracuse a depth problem at the top of the zone. Coach Boeheim was harsh on his former point guard, stating Richmond was never 100% and did not have as strong a work ethic as Joe Girard, during Syracuse men’s basketball’s media day.
Jr. F Quincy Guerrier – The Quebec native had not only a long process of leaving Syracuse, but also a long trip to his next destination: Oregon. Guerrier first entered the draft, but then decided to quack his way to the Ducks in Eugene. Guerrier’s team-leading 8.4 rebounds per game, team-runner-up 13.7 points per game will be missed, but his 31.1 shooting percentage from three-point range won’t be.
Sr. F Marek Dolezaj – It’s only fitting to save the biggest loss for last, right? When Sidibe went down with a knee injury (what’s new?) Dolezaj became the primary center. The Slovakian averaged a little under ten points per game, but probably picked up over 15 bumps and bruises per game. Dolezaj’s grit and gutsiness will be missed down low, and it will be interesting to see if Edwards can bring that same sacrifice under the basket in 2021.
SO WHAT’S THE OUTCOME?
This team is capable of being a tournament team. But man, oh man. If Syracuse loses Buddy Boeheim or Joe Girard on the frontcourt, this team is in serious trouble. Next up on the depth chart is Symir Torrence, a Marquette transfer who averaged only 13.1 minutes per game for Golden Eagles last season.
Even with that, this team is capable of shooting the basketball, which can put the Orange in the field of 68. This team will make the tournament, but it will either be SU, who secures more than 20 wins this season, disappointing in the first round or rolling its way back to the sweet sixteen.
It all goes down on Tuesday, November 9. Syracuse opens up its non-conference slate against Lafayette. It’s the start of what could be a bumpy beginning for the Orange. SU plays Villanova and Georgetown away from the Dome, Indiana for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and VCU – and potentially Baylor, if it goes that way – in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas.
The Orange and Leopards tip off at 7.
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