Roster Overview — 2016 Syracuse Basketball preview

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Gillon is one of two fifth-year transfers

Syracuse has a mix of experience and youth on the 2016-17 squad. Here’s a look at each player on this year’s team and an analysis of how the roster shakes out:

WHO’S BACK:

  • DaJuan Coleman (redshirt senior 6’9” center) – Coleman returned from a significant knee injury to start all 37 games last season, averaging just shy of five points and five rebounds per game in 17.5 minutes of action.
    Tyler Roberson (senior 6’8” forward) – Roberson also started all 37 contests last season and established career highs of 9.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Highlighted by a 14-point, 20-rebound effort at Duke, Roberson posted seven double-doubles last season.
  • Paschal Chukwu (redshirt sophomore 7’2” center) – After spending a year sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules, Chukwu joins the active roster with three seasons of eligibility remaining. He averaged 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks in limited action as a freshman at Providence.
    Frank Howard (sophomore 6’5” guard) – In brief minutes (10.5/game) as a freshman, Howard posted a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Howard posted a season-best six assists against both Louisville and Georgia Tech, the latter in only 14 minutes of play.
  • Tyler Lydon (sophomore 6’9” forward) – Lydon was a versatile sixth-man last season, averaging 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while hitting 40.5% of his three-pointers. Voted a preseason Third-Team All-American and All-ACC Second Team member coming into the upcoming season, Lydon averaged 1.8 blocks per game last season and rejected 20 shots in five NCAA Tournament games last season.

WHO’S NEW:

  • John Gillon II (graduate transfer 6’0” guard) – Gillon, who transferred from Colorado State for his final year of eligbility, averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 assists per game for the Rams last season while making just under 88% of his free throws. Already a 1,000-point collegiate scorer, he has also made 36.4 percent of his three-pointers in his career.
  • Andrew White III (graduate transfer 6’7” guard) – White, a transfer from Nebraska who started his college career at Kansas, shot 41.2 percent from three last season. An All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection last season, White led the Huskers in rebounding at 5.9 boards per game and finished second on the team in scoring at 16.6 points per outing.
  • Tyus Battle (freshman 6’6” guard) – A consensus top 40 recruit, Battle was the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in high school. Battle also earned a gold medal as part of the USA Basketball team at the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship.
  • Matthew Moyer (freshman 6’8” forward) – A top-80 recruit for all four major recruiting services, Moyer was the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year at South Kent Prep. Moyer suffered a foot injury in the summer and will redshirt this season despite practicing with the team and playing in the first exhibition game.
  • Taurean Thompson (freshman 6’10” forward) – Thompson played his senior season at Brewster Prep and is a consensus top-100 recruit. He also won the Most Valuable Player honors in the 2016 Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game.

» Related: Syracuse guard Andrew White watched Steph Curry to overcome shooting doldrums

LEADING RETURNERS:

  • POINTS: Lydon – 10.1/game, Roberson – 8.8/game
  • ASSISTS: Howard – 1.8/game
  • REBOUNDS: Roberson – 8.5/game, Lydon – 6.3/game
  • THREE-POINTERS: Lydon – 49
  • FG%: Coleman – 54.8%, Roberson – 52.4%
  • FT%: Lydon – 77.4%
  • BLOCKED SHOTS: Lydon – 67, Coleman – 33
  • STEALS: Lydon – 42, Roberson – 28

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS:

  • ACC Media Poll – fifth in conference
  • AP Poll – #19
  • USA Today Coaches Poll – #17

The team opened both its exhibition games with a starting five of Frank Howard and Andrew White at guard with Tyler Lydon and Tyler Roberson flanking DaJuan Coleman down low. It is a sensible lineup when you look at what Jim Boeheim has preferred to do in recent seasons.

While he suffered through a rough season shooting the ball as a freshman, Howard is an easy choice for starting the season at point guard. In his limited opportunities, he displayed a pass-first mentality that will mesh well with the cast of offensive-minded options around him. Howard’s year in the books also gives him familiarity with the 2-3 zone to go with his 6’5” height. Given Boeheim’s preference for tall guards at the top of the zone, Howard makes sense, especially in tandem with Andrew White, who will more than pick up long-range shooting slack for the starting backcourt. White shot over 41 percent from three last season at Nebraska on 211 attempts, which totaled 52 percent of his field goal attempts on the season.

John Gillon will see time at point guard off the bench. Gillon is another strong outside shooter, but also led Colorado State in assists last season. A speedy player who can push the tempo, Gillon gave Orange fans a lot to look forward to, as he piled up nine assists in 20 minutes in his first exhibition appearance. Freshman Tyus Battle will also come off the bench. Battle also made a strong first appearance for SU, drilling 4-of-5 threes en route to 16 points in the exhibition opener followed by 17 points in the second exhibition, providing the sort of instant offense that could make him a sleeper for ACC Sixth Man of the Year Award.

DaJuan Coleman was a rock in the middle for the Orange in his first season back from a significant knee injury. Coleman played 20 minutes a dozen times last season, including 33 minutes against Pitt in the ACC Tournament when he recorded an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double. Coleman should reprise his role again this year by playing around 20 minutes a game and provided bulk down low. Paschal Chukwu will complement Coleman as a completely different presence at center. Chukwu is a 7’2” shotblocker who will provide an intimidating presence in the middle for Syracuse, something they have missed for several seasons. While he has put on some weight and strength, Chukwu still needs to improve his ability to anchor to become a more complete defensive player, as well as develop his offensive game.

The team’s leading rebounder, Tyler Roberson will be back as the starting power forward for his senior season and hopefully become the consistent player Boeheim has wanted. In eight games before the NCAA Tournament, Roberson averaged 4.6 boards, but posted 11.2 rebounds per outing in the Big Dance. That level of inconsistency is what drives Boeheim batty. Taurean Thompson is the likely backup for Roberson when Boeheim goes deep into his bench, having posted six points and five rebounds in 15 minutes in the exhibition opener. Fellow freshman Matthew Moyer, who suffered a foot injury during the summer and was likely the last man on the bench, has opted to sit out this season as a redshirt.

Tyler Lydon faces the transition from sixth man to marked man, as he enters his sophomore season as the expected top dog for Syracuse. Lydon showed a little bit of everything as a freshman, announcing his presence in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament with three-game averages of 15.7 points and 9.3 boards per game. From that point on, in spite of being a reserve, Lydon played big minutes for the Orange. Lydon added strength in the offseason, which will be put to the test against elite rebounding teams. In nine games against North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Wisconsin last season, Lydon played 283 minutes and grabbed 37 rebounds, a rate of 5.2 rebounds per 40 minutes. Against other teams, he averaged 9.3 rebounds per 40 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the Orange went 1-8 against those elite rebounding teams.

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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.
Schedule Analysis — 2016 Syracuse Basketball preview
Syracuse guard Andrew White watched Steph Curry to overcome shooting doldrums

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