Tyler Lydon is on the Utah Jazz. Taurean Thompson is playing at Seton Hall. John Gillon and Andrew White are in the G League.
That leaves Tyus Battle as the only returning starter from last year’s disappointing defeat to Ole Miss in the NIT. Don’t talk to him about his future though. He is dialed in for this year and using last year as fuel.
“I’m happy I am here at ‘Cuse. I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’m just trying to win. We have a bad taste in our mouth from last year.”
The sophomore shooting guard passed up on the NBA last summer to return to Syracuse. He averaged 11.3 points per game and returns as the team’s leading scorer by a pretty wide margin. That number needs to rise even more if the Orange is going to be successful.
“I don’t think I have to play selfish,” Battle said. “Just more aggressive.”
His new role as the offensive leader was on display in Syracuse’s preseason opener against Southern New Hampshire. It might have been an exhibition game, but Battle poured in 20 points in 26 minutes on 6 of 11 shooting in a 84-54 win. He added five assists.
“He would’ve had a big game tonight if he made his 3s,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He will get there.”
Boeheim knows that Battle is his offensive key for this year.
“We want him to get shots,” Boeheim said. “I’m not worried about how many.”
But he shied away from saying that everything fell on the sophomore.
“We don’t have one or two guys. Everyone needs to contribute,” Boeheim said.
Battle’s development has extended to off the court as well. He said he wants to be more vocal and knows that he is now a leader on a young Syracuse team. His leadership has not been lost on his teammates either.
“He treats me like a brother,” freshman center Bourama Sidibe said. “He goes at me every day in practice and I like that he goes at me every day in practice.”
It is easy to forget that Battle is just a sophomore. He still remembers very well how difficult it was to transition.
“College is a big transition from high school,” he said. “They need someone to to talk to.”
A year ago, Battle was a shy freshman on a team full of veterans. Now, he is the leader of a group of fresh faces who want to show that their inexperience will not hold them back.
“We all know,” freshman guard Howard Washington said. “He is our scorer. He is our focal point.”