In the first of a multi-part series, Micah Tannenbaum and Wesley Cheng will be discussing the 2011-12 Syracuse basketball team. The first discussion centers around the future of Dion Waiters.
Wesley Cheng: Micah, what do you think Dion’s role on next year’s team will be?
Micah Tannenbaum: I think it honestly depends on how much playing time Coach Boeheim wants to give Michael Carter-Williams. The backcourt is already solidified with Scoop returning and Triche at the 2. The fact the Dion has a year of experience and 20 games of Big East play under his belt could go along way in that decision.
WC: MCW is definitely an X factor here. Boeheim raved about his abilities when making his remarks to Jon Rothstein that started the whole “Dion transferring” speculation. I watched the McDonald’s All American game, and he’s definitely got a lot of talent. I just worry he lacks the bulk to compete in the Big East.
MT: Well, Gerry McNamara wasn’t the “bulkiest” guard in the world and he did just fine in the Big East. The reality is Boeheim plays the players he likes. If he takes a liking to Carter-Williams, Dion could find himself suffering from Mookie Jones syndrome.
WC: We’re also leaving Brandon Triche out of this equation. I think he’s going to have a monster year next year. He started to show signs of having more of a shooting guard mentality and he’s going to be playing some big time minutes. Let’s assume for a second that MCW is as good as advertised and Scoop/Triche play the same minutes they played this year — where are the minutes for Dion going to come from?
MT: No, we haven’t discussed Triche and I agree he is due for a monster year. I think the one thing holding him back is him not realizing just how good of a player he can be. He’s had the physical frame to compete in the Big East since he was a freshman and this past season he single-handedly took over the second halves of games for Syracuse. I honestly can’t tell you where Dion’s minutes are going to come from. And don’t leave out freshman Trevor Cooney. The one thing working in Trevor’s favor is he is a sharpshooter from downtown and the Orange haven’t had a go-to guy like that since Rautins left the team in 2010.
WC: So with that being said, let’s do the math for next year. There are 80 minutes a game between the two guard positions to be played. Scoop played 32 minutes, Brandon played 28 and Dion played 16. That leaves four minutes to be played (Mookie time!). Even if we drop Scoop and Brandon to 25 minutes each, that only leaves 14 minutes to split between Cooney and MCW (and Mookie). Seems like Dion would be lucky to get 16 minutes a game if MCW/Cooney are ready to contribute.
MT: Well, I think the side of this that we’re neglecting is that Syracuse is extremely deep and talented at the guard position and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
WC: So what is your final prediction for Dion’s role on the team next year?
MT: Well, now that we know he will return for certain, I expect Dion to be the first option off the bench. Unless Carter-Williams wows us all during non-conference play, I think it is Dion’s role to lose. It’s also probably in his best interest to not have a repeat of whatever caused him to find the bench during the first Marquette game last year.
WC: In some ways, I think MCW’s arrival will help him out a lot. Dion played some point guard last year, and he’s just not suited for that position — he’s got a scorer’s mentality. He may still only play 15 minutes a game next year, but he’s going to be a lot more effective during that time.
MT: Hopefully, the last game of the season against Marquette is a taste of what he can bring on a regular basis.
WC: Agreed. And going back to your earlier point, having too many talented guards is definitely a great problem to have.