Syracuse basketball full of optimism as 2016-17 season starts

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Tyler Lydon and Syracuse are optimistic

The 2016-2017 season promises to be an interesting one for Syracuse, if not a fun one for the Orange. From Tyler Lydon’s poison ivy to Andrew White III’s team nickname origin stories to a player’s family member making the “he talks to much gesture” about the player to Eric Devendorf, there was a jovial mood at the team’s tip-off event, Media Day.

(By the way, let’s not overlook Devendorf joining the team as an assistant strength coach. Just stop and imagine Devendorf wearing a suit and tie for a minute. If none of the above made you chuckle, that mental picture should probably do the trick. By the way, this is the first step to Devendorf quite possibly becoming the newest assistant coach when Boeheim retires, Mike Hopkins steps up, and Gerry McNamara and Adrian Autry each move up on spot in the pecking order.)

Anyway, even head coach Jim Boeheim was upbeat, getting in a little playful jousting with the media, pending the question, or even the number of questions that a particular media member was offering. The Hall of Famer went through a little over 20 minutes of Q&A with the media, making his normal wisecracks along the way.

Even though Boeheim’s time on campus is heading toward its eventual end, there is still a lot to look forward to.

Boeheim cited the team’s depth, its three-point shooting, the physical development of some younger players, and what the freshmen have shown thus far at various points of the media session, suggesting that this could be one of the better groups he’s had.

» Related: Will Syracuse forward Tyler Roberson get drafted?

Not bad for a guy who has guided teams to six Final Fours, including a national championship.

Of course, there is a lot for him to be pleased with, at least on paper.

The team is adding the player who ranked fourth in three-pointers made per game, sixth in scoring, 12th in three-point percentage, and 15th in rebounding in the Big Ten last season (Andrew White III).

The squad also welcomes a person who has already scored over 1,000 points in his career and led the Mountain West in free throw shooting last season, as well as finished fifth in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, quite likely to a reserve role (John Gillon).

SU’s three-person freshman class is comprised entirely of top-100 recruits (Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer, Taurean Thompson).

There are also the returning players.

DaJuan Coleman, Tyler Lydon, and Tyler Roberson will likely form quite a formidable baseline in the 2-3 zone, considering they were the team’s top three rebounders and shotblockers last year.

And mentioning shotblockers requires a mandatory reminder that Paschal Chukwu, who stands 7’2”, has completed his year of sitting out as a transfer and will undoubtedly make the on-court rotation.

Throw in the expected improvement from point guard Frank Howard, not to mention Lydon improving and taking on a much bigger role in the offense, and it is easy to understand why, even though the top three scorers and three-point makers are gone from last year’s Final Four group, the head coach is in a good mood.

For now.

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Jim Stechschulte

About Jim Stechschulte

A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.
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