2014-15 Syracuse basketball team report card

Trevor Cooney had an up-and-down season
Trevor Cooney had an up-and-down season

Now that the 2014-15 season is over, it’s a good time to give out our grades for this year:

Rakeem Christmas: How many players have improved over four years like Christmas? He leaves Syracuse as one of its most polished big men ever, and should have a good shot at making an NBA roster. He led the team in points (17.5), rebounds (9.1) and blocks (2.5). Grade: A+

Trevor Cooney: The mercurial guard’s season resembled a bell curve. Cooney started the season 9-33 from beyond the arc before starting a torrid 34-72 clip at the end of non-conference play and into the early part of the ACC. But Cooney struggled with a tight back toward the end of the season, and finished just 30.9 percent from downtown. Will he ever find consistency? Grade: B-

Michael Gbinije: After Gbinije dropped 27 points in a Valentine’s Day loss to Duke, Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski said Gbinije had developed into the player Duke always though he’d be. That Duke game was part of a six-game stretch where Gbinije averaged 20.5 points per game. He also ended up being SU’s best outside shooter, making 39 percent of his 3s. The question is, can he do it on a nightly basis? Grade: B+

Chris McCullough: Before tearing his ACL 16 games into the season, McCullough was averaging 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, but his flaws were evident. He was far too lean to play on the interior and at times looked disinterested in what was going on in front of him. McCullough will return sometime in December, and could be one of the best players in the ACC next year. Grade: INC

» Related: Scholarship situation still unclear with Syracuse’s recruitment of Thomas Bryant

Tyler Roberson: The biggest beneficiary of McCullough’s injury was Roberson, who took his place in the starting lineup. On some nights, Roberson looked like one of the elite rebounders in the ACC, twice rounding up 17 rebounds in a game. In his last three games, he averaged 14 points and nine rebounds, which isn’t an unreasonable stat line to expect from Roberson by the end of his SU career. Grade: B

Kaleb Joseph: You have to feel a little for Joseph, who was thrust into the starting role following the early defection of Tyler Ennis to the NBA. Joseph struggled mightily at times, and seemed to have a permanent spot in Jim Boeheim’s doghouse. He’ll need to improve his strength and shot in the offseason. Grade: C+

BJ Johnson: SU got a glimpse at Johnson’s potential in a 65-60 upset win against then-No. 9 Notre Dame on Feb. 24. His 19 points on 7-13 shooting was a big reason why SU was able to pull off the upset. But Johnson shot just 30 percent from the field and 26 percent from downtown. The key to his playing time next season will be how consistently he can shoot the 3. Grade: C

Ron Patterson: Syracuse had to institute a no-shooting policy on Patterson, and it’s easy to see why. 31 percent from the field, 17 from beyond the arc and 28 percent from the free throw line. It’s hard to see Patterson getting any type of playing time in next year’s rotation, which will include McDonald’s All-American Malachi Richardson. Grade: D

Chinonso Obokoh: Syracuse could’ve used more help from Obokoh, who fell into the reserve center role after McCullough went down with his injury. Obokoh often looked overmatched on both ends of the floor in the 13 games that he played in. Grade: D

Jim Boeheim: In many ways, this Syracuse team overachieved when you think about what they had to overcome. In the offseason, they lost Jerami Grant and Ennis to the NBA, and then SU lost McCullough and DaJuan Coleman to season ending knee injuries. Despite all of that, SU won 18 games and finished eighth in the ACC with upset wins over Louisville and Notre Dame. Not bad for a down year. Grade: B+

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.