Here’s a quick look at the 2013-14 Syracuse basketball team:
WHO’S OUT: Seniors James Southerland and Brandon Triche leave as the most winning class in Syracuse history. Between the two, they were on two separate No. 1 teams (2010, 2012) and were seniors on the team that went to back-to-back Elite 8s for the first time in school history, plus one of only five teams to make the Final Four. Triche was the team’s best decision maker, while Southerland was the team’s best 3-point threat.
WHO’S LIKELY OUT: Michael Carter-Williams is a projected lottery pick and will likely declare in the next couple of weeks. The team won and lost based on how Carter-Williams played. When he settled for outside shots and didn’t look for his teammates, Syracuse struggled. When he was a pass-first point guard, he was a catalyst for their Final Four run.
- Tyler Ennis: He’s likely to take over the reigns for Carter-Williams at point guard. He’s was snubbed in the McDonald’s All-American game, but is certainly a worthy successor to MCW.
- Tyler Roberson: The über athletic wing continues in the tradition of Hakim Warrick, Damone Brown and Jerami Grant. He’ll need to develop strength inside, but he’ll be a fantastic fit for the 2-3 zone.
- Ron Patterson: The one-time Indiana commit has good range on his shot and is regarded as one of the best defenders in his class. But he’ll need to work on his ball handling to see more playing time.
- BJ Johnson: At 6’5″, Johnson is a hybrid wing/guard and, like many SU recruits, is an excellent athlete. Johnson graduated from Lower Merion, the same school that produced Kobe Bryant, and regularly churns out Division I recruits.
- Chinonso Obokoh: The 6-9 shotblocker from nearby Bishop Kearney (Rochester) certainly fits the prototypical profile of an SU center. It’s hard to see him getting much playing time behind Coleman, Christmas and Keita, though, so he may take a redshirt.
- Michael Gbinije: The Duke transfer sat out his required year, and will probably take over for Triche at the off guard spot. Gbinije will be a hawk at the top of the zone with his 6-6 frame, and has a big personality.
EARLY MVP: It’s going to be CJ Fair’s team next year. Fair was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder this year, and was statistically their best outside shooter. Once Fair becomes more aggressive, he’ll be a candidate to be a First Team All-American. But the question is whether he’ll be able to take the next step.
EARLY MIP: Trevor Cooney struggled through most of his redshirt freshman season, but he showed flashes of the ability to be a great shooter. We’ve all heard the stories about how he’s a knock-down shooter in practice. With a year under his belt, that will start translating into actual games.
EARLY DARK HORSE: We all have seen what Jerami Grant is capable of. When James Southerland was ineligible, Grant played 40 minutes against Notre Dame and scored 14 points. Grant’s production faded after Southerland’s return, but Grant will have plenty of chances to play next year. He could easily end up being one of the top scorers on the team.
- Can Ennis run the team? While we’ve heard great things about Ennis, there’s always a question of translating your game from the high school to college levels.
- Can Syracuse get production from their centers? Sub-questions for this category include whether Baye Moussa Keita and Rakeem Christmas develop an inside post game, and whether DaJuan Coleman can improve defensively.
- Who of the freshmen will make the biggest impact? I would think Roberson, who will be the first wing off the bench. But Johnson or Patterson could also see some time as the fourth guard in the rotation.
- How will the year off affect Gbinije? It’s always tough to simulate game speed in practice.