Loss of Moustapha Diagne hurts Syracuse basketball’s depth

moustapha_diagne

Diagne will not be joining Syracuse this fall

The summer is (sadly) nearing its end. Colleges are welcoming back students. The school year beckons.

It’s Syracuse basketball time, folks.

What, you thought I was going in the football direction? Come on. As a Syracuse fan, you should know there’s never a bad time to talk Cuse bball.

And it’s time for the latest roster check (these happen quite often these days). Here it is.

The latest news in the summer of Cuse basketball involves incoming freshman Moustapha Diagne. The NCAA is looking into a course the big man took in Senegal, and Diagne will go to a 2-year school this fall.

It’s tough to predict the long-term ramifications for this move, but for this coming season, with SU at 10 scholarship players now, the Orange can start its penalty if it wants.

Technicalities aside, the Orange are now down a man. SU may have 10 scholarships players, but one of those players (Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu) is sitting out this year because of the usual transfer rule.

Now, I’m not here to state the facts we know. I want to look at what (or who) SU does have on the roster.

» Related: What is the impact of Syracuse losing Moustapha Diagne?

The nine players seeing the court this year are seniors Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and DaJuan Coleman, junior Tyler Roberson, redshirt Chinoso Obokoh, sophomore Kaleb Joseph, and freshmen Malachi Richardson, Tyler Lydon and Frank Howard.

Gbinije is a proven player. He showed his mettle last year in tandem with Rakeem Christmas. He’s a player you feel comfortable with on your team. As for Cooney, (you’re still in school Cooney?) I still see him as solid role player. But he will arguably be the No. 2 guy on the team behind Gbinije. And a starter. Only slightly concerned…

Then there’s DaJuan Coleman. Another player (along with Cooney), who I overlapped with at SU (I graduated two years ago!). I remember when Coleman picked Cuse (over Kentucky). Who wasn’t elated? He was a top prospect. But poor Coleman has been beset by injuries the last three years. I want Coleman to be healthy this year not just for the team, but for his own good. I want to see if he can live up to his high status coming out of high school.

Roberson could be the classic SU late bloomer, a consistent threat on the court. Joseph will hopefully mature in his second season. Richardson is hyped. Lydon seems to be solid, as does Howard, but it’s tough to predict anything for freshmen. Obokoh has hardly seen any minutes so he’s a relative unknown.

Losing Diagne definitely hurts the Orange in the front court (not to mention in overall depth), but Boeheim and Hopkins will make do with nine players. Boeheim uses a short bench anyway. He’s been around the block. Cuse will be fine. Just have to keep re-stocking the cupboard.

Does this year’s team have that “it” factor that the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 teams did? (Side note—we’ve been spoiled lately). The answer is probably not. But before the 2012-2013 season, I did not think MCW would lead the team to the Final Four. And he did. You can never turn an eye to any Cuse team. And that includes this year’s, even a man down.

Now, on to football…

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Rachel Marcus

About Rachel Marcus

Rachel is currently a Digital Production Assistant at ESPN. She has previously interned at SportsNet New York and has contributed to Dime Magazine and covered beats ranging from Big East basketball to men’s soccer for The Daily Orange. She is originally from Maryland. Follow her on Twitter @rachelnmarcus.
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