Syracuse Basketball: Navigating the 2022 offseason

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Nov 14, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Cole Swider (21) shoots the ball against the defense of Drexel Dragons guard Matey Juric (15) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse’s season officially ended on Sunday when it was not selected for a postseason tournament after a 16-17 season. Here’s what Syracuse needs to address in its offseason ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Cole Swider’s Status

Swider started all 33 of SU’s games, and emerged as a top offensive threat at the end of the season. He scored a career high 36 points in SU’s regular season road finale against UNC, and two games later, he poured in 28 points against Florida State. Swider also appeared more comfortable in the zone and ended the season as SU’s leading rebounder (6.8 rpg). He still has one year of eligibility left because of the COVID eligibility rules, but it’s unclear if he’ll want to take advantage of it. If he does, his return would be as big a recruiting win that Syracuse could get in the offseason. It would give SU an All-ACC caliber wing who understands the system and could potentially be the Orange’s featured scorer next season.

Jimmy Boeheim’s Status

Jimmy was also in the starting lineup for all 33 games, and provided a glue-guy blue collar work ethic. He did struggle during the heart of ACC play, but also finished the season with a 28-point performance against Duke. Jimmy is out of eligibility, as the Ivy League cancelled its 2020-21 season, but he appealed to the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility. Like Swider, if he returns, he would add a veteran presence to the lineup, though having both back would recreate some of the defensive problems that plagued SU throughout the year.

Adding Another Guard

All indications are that Buddy Boeheim will not return for a fifth season, even though he still has one year of eligibility left. That creates an opening in the roster for another rotational guard. The conventional thinking is that Symir Torrence gets promoted to the starting point guard spot, while Joe Girard slides to his more natural shooting guard position. That leaves incoming freshman Quadir Copeland and Justin Taylor as guard options off the bench. But the staff appears to want to add another dynamic guard to the group. They are among four finalists for four-star 2022 combo guard Judah Mintz, and have also reached out to five-star guard Skyy Clark, who recently decommitted from Kentucky.

Who Leaves Syracuse?

There was a mass exodus from Syracuse’s roster last year, as Woody Newton, Quincy Guerrier, Kadary Richmond and Robert Braswell all transferred to new schools. Similar departures may happen with SU in this offseason as well. Benny Williams, a five-star recruit in 2021, struggled throughout the year and was mostly buried on the bench. Frank Anselem improved throughout the year, but will still be a backup next season behind Jesse Edwards. John Bol Ajak entered the portal last year before returning to Syracuse, and it’s reasonable to think he may try again after appearing in only 12 games this year.

» Related: An early look at the 2022-23 Syracuse basketball team

Monitoring The Portal

If Swider does in fact decide to move on, Syracuse will almost certainly be in the market for a veteran wing as Taylor and Chris Bunch get acclimated to the college level. The Orange has had success in bringing in wings via transfer, with Alan Griffin, Andrew White, Elijah Hughes and Swider all having productive seasons with the Orange after leaving their initial schools. Syracuse may also try to do the same with a guard if they’re not able to land Clark and Mintz.

An Offseason Wishlist

Syracuse can certainly stand for its returning players to improve various components of their game. SU had issues handling the press this season, and even if Girard ultimately shifts to off-guard, he could stand to improve his handle. Torrence still struggles with his outside shooting; an improvement here would keep defenses honest and help him penetrate. Williams can find more consistent minutes if he improves his midrange game and defensive positioning. Anselem should continue to add muscle to his frame and develop more of an offensive repertoire, and Edwards would benefit from the same. All of these offseason improvements would greatly help Syracuse return to its normal perch as a team that plays in the postseason.

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About Wes Cheng 2739 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) 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. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.