Last year, it was Rakeem Christmas. In the 2013-14 and 2012-13 seasons, C.J. Fair was the guy. Two straight seasons prior to that, Kris Joseph did the deed.
All three of those guys represent the leading scorers for the Syracuse basketball team over the last five seasons.
At last check, none of those guys currently reside on the Orange roster. So, who will be labeled top scorer this season?
Of the returning players, two averaged double figures last season. Trevor Cooney averaged 13.4 points per game and Michael Gbinije averaged 12.7 points per game. Tyler Roberson was next on the list at 8.3 per game. The list of possibilities probably ends there.
Of the three, Roberson seems least likely to lead the way. Roberson, while perhaps the most athletic of the bunch, won’t have many plays run for him and won’t have the ball in his hands as much as a big man. In fact, you could make an argument he may average more rebounds each game than points. He has a knack of getting to the boards, which may bode well for his scoring numbers if he can get to the offensive glass and get some easy buckets that way. But, without his number being called too often, Roberson may see only a modest increase in his scoring average.
Cooney…can he? He has averaged double digits in each of the last two seasons and plays a ton of minutes (37.3 per game last season). He attempted 376 shots last season, 76 more than Gbinije. So, the opportunities will be there.
Here’s where the crux of the Cooney argument for leading scorer will unfold: field goal percentage.
In 2014-15, he shot just 36% overall. He is just a 37% shooter for his career. While the volume is in his favor, his efficiency works against him. And is it me, or does Cooney lack that “it” factor to be the go-to option? Don’t get me wrong…Cooney can fill the bucket. But, on a night-in, night-out basis, he seems better suited to the role of Robin…
…to Gbinije’s Batman. Since the end of last year, Gbinije has been very vocal about a number of things:
- Wanting to be more aggressive
- Wanting to play guard so that he has the ball in his hands more often
- Wanting to show more of his personality on the floor
All of these things point to a guy who is ready to take on THE leadership role. Not only is he not shying away from the spotlight, but he’s ASKING for it. And from everything his coaches are saying, they expect the same thing out of him.
Gbinije scored nearly 13 points per game in his first full season and seems poised to take on a bigger load with his increased level of comfort in Syracuse. And unlike Cooney, Gbinije shot an efficient 46% from the field.
More opportunity, a good conversion rate and the desire to lead the way leads logic to say Gbinije will be the top dog for the Orange next season.