Item: When the voting was tabulated Sunday and the results announced by the conference, Syracuse’s leading scorer was No. 6 in the postseason individual balloting among the league’s 15 head coaches and 42 members of selected media entities, just missing out on First Team all- conference honors.
While always voting subjectively using a variety of data compiled as each season progresses, it’s easy to have built-in Orange leanings when annually focusing on the team’s 31 regular season games either in person or through the live broadcast, certainly as compared to the total amount of watching the other 14 ACC teams.
The league is obviously filled with a high percentage of future NBA and professional players, so when dividing up the top 15 for all-conference first, second, and third team recognition it’s certainly not always going to be clear cut.
There’s no argument here with the first-team selection of guards Jerome Robinson of B.C., Carolina’s Joel Berry II, and Kyle Guy of No. 1 Virginia (along with Duke player/rookie of the year Marvin Bagley III and UNC’s Luke Maye) for the various standout reasons that trio excelled in their play this season.
The same can be said for all of the second team guard selections joining Battle; Guy’s UVA backcourt mate Devon Hall, Clemson’s Marcquise Reed, and Virginia Tech’s Justin Robinson (along with Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr.).
While conceding one of the first-team guard spots was going to Guy or Hall following the Cavaliers astonishing 17-1 conference season, in the end we weighed Battle’s benefit to what turned out to be a depleted Syracuse scholarship roster, forcing him to play virtually every minute of every game, as compared to Berry II’s equally terrific play guiding the defending national champions, albeit surrounded with a little deeper cast of talented players.
Statistically it’s hard to separate Battle and Berry II as both shot just over 40% (Berry II did have 18 more three-pointers than Battle), although the ‘Cuse guard joined Bagley III and Robinson as the only trio to average 20 points plus per game (Berry II 18.2), and Battle and Robinson were the only players to score 600 or more points, as Battle went over 1000 for his SU career.
Without Battle, the Orange would have floundered, and might have even been hard-pressed to avoid Jim Boeheim’s first losing season based on the roster reduction and offensive foes at the “4” and “5” spots. It’s hard to think North Carolina would have been in that type of predicament minus Berry II, who himself played in all but one game after breaking his hand punching a door following a video game loss to a teammate during preseason practice.
With Oshae Brissett’s standout first season rightfully rewarded as he joined Bagley III, Carter Jr., Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, and Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV on the All-Freshmen Team, the future truly is now.
At 0-3 all-time in ACC Tournament play in now the fifth conference season, it’s time for Battle and Brissett, along with Frank Howard, who had the most steals in the league while averaging 15.2 points, to lead the No. 11 seeded Orange (19-12) against Wake Forest (11-19) Tuesday evening (7:00 p.m. ET /ESPNU/ACC Network) in Brooklyn.
After letting one slip away in a 73-67 road loss to the Demon Deacons back on Jan. 3, SU hung on to beat Wake 78-70 in the Dome Feb. 11, but come into the third meeting with momentum from beating Top 25 ranked Clemson, and a final opportunity for a must-win to keep its at-large NCAA hopes alive.