2015-16 Syracuse basketball: Midseason Report Card

Syracuse needs Richardson to regain his shooting touch
Syracuse needs Richardson to regain his shooting touch

Syracuse has reached the end of its non-conference schedule at 10-3, and will begin conference play on Wednesday at 9 p.m. against Pitt. Before we embark on ACC games, let’s look back on the first 13 games of the season and grade the Orange:

Michael Gbinije: Interim head coach Mike Hopkins referred to Gbinije as an “alpha dog” after Syracuse’s loss to St. John’s, and that’s exactly what’s he’s been throughout the season. Gbinije has not only been SU’s top scorer (18.6 ppg), he’s shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 44.6 percent from downtown. And he’s consistently stuffing the stat sheet, with 4.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. It’s hard to think about where Syracuse would be without him. Grade: A+

Trevor Cooney: We all know what to expect from Cooney at this point in his career. The fifth-year senior is an above average defender in the zone and wildly inconsistent on offense. For every game he’s shot well from downtown such as games against Texas Southern (4-8 from 3) or Montana State (3-6), he’s also had poor game to balance it out. Against St. John’s, Georgetown, Texas A&M and UConn, Cooney was a combined 8 for 31 from downtown. Cooney is shooting 35.1 percent both from the field, and also from 3-point land.  Grade: B

Malachi Richardson: The Orange need to find a way to get Richardson going again. Through the season’s first five games, Richardson was shooting 13 for 33 from beyond the arc. But after games like an 0-11 performance against St. John’s, or and 0-4 showing against Montana State, Richardson is shooting just 26.2 percent from distance. That being said, Richardson has shown himself to be a capable rebounder (4.8 rpg) and has also shown the ability to take the ball to the basket (a team-high 55 free throw attempts). Grade: C

» Related: Concerns remain as Syracuse basketball finishes non-conference schedule

Tyler Roberson: The junior has been the epitome of inconsistency this season. In 37 minutes against UConn in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals, Roberson dominated the paint for 14 points and nine rebounds. The very next night in 33 minutes against Texas A&M, Roberson posted a quiet 6 points and 4 rebounds. That has been a microcosm of the struggles of the coaching staff to keep Roberson focused. When he’s on, he’s a rebounding machine. When he’s not, he has the coaching staff asking Santa for help. “I think we’re just going to have to, for Christmas, ask for a plug-in, a Tyler Roberson plug-in, and just make sure he’s plugged in on every darn day,” Hopkins said following SU’s win against Cornell. Grade: C

Dajuan Coleman: After essentially not playing for two seasons, Coleman seems like he’s finally gaining his rhythm. In his last two games, he’s scored 27 points in 32 minutes, showing flashes of the talent that made Coleman a McDonald’s All-American. Though SU’s last two games were against weaker (and smaller) competition, the Orange will need performances like that from Coleman in ACC play. It certainly will be interesting to see if Jim Boeheim uses Coleman the same way that Hopkins has recently when Boeheim returns to the bench. Grade: C+

Tyler Lydon: The freshman may technically come off the bench, but he’s playing starter minutes, logging the fourth most minutes on the team. He was not initially thought of as an NBA talent when he came to Syracuse, but that’s changed quickly, with mock drafts now projecting Lydon in the 2017 draft. It’s easy to see why. He can score from the inside and outside, is the team’s best shot blocker (2.4 bpg), and can play both wing spots as well as center. The question now is when Lydon will figure out how good he really is and unlock his infinite potential. Grade: A

Franklin Howard: Howard has wrestled the backup point guard role away from sophomore Kaleb Joseph. He’s played more minutes than Joseph in five of the last six games, including a season-high 19 minutes against Texas Southern a game after a season-high 18 minutes against Montana State. That should lead to a more steady role come ACC time. Grade: INC

Kaleb Joseph: After starting nearly every game as a freshman, Joseph seems to be persona non grata on this year’s squad. Joseph has played more than seven minutes just once since SU’s game against Wisconsin, and played 0 minutes to Howard’s 19 against Texas Southern. With Gbinije and Cooney among the ACC’s leaders in minutes and Howard’s recent emergence, Joseph is the odd man out in this game of musical chairs. Grade: D

Chinoso Obokoh: Obokoh has played a grand total of 39 minutes this season spread through various parts of six games. In 12 minutes, he scored 11 points and collected six rebounds against Montana State, flashing his potential, but was a DNP:CD against Montana State. He’s largely looked out of sync with the zone in his other appearances, and will likely stay buried on the bench the rest of the season barring injuries or foul trouble. Grade: INC

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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.