2012-2013 Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #2 Big East
Syracuse Team Page
It is easy to look at the talent Syracuse lost from last season and dismiss the Orange as serious Big East title contenders. But even with the loss of three starters, which does not even include the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Coach Jim Boeheim has a very talented returning nucleus and a few newcomers who should make a big contribution right away. That may not result in such a dominating season as the Orange had least year, but it could result in a deeper NCAA Tournament run.
2011-12 Record: 34-3, 17-1
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Coach Record: 890-304 at Syracuse, 890-304 overall
Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine and Fab Melo are the departed starters from a season ago. Joseph led the Orange with 13.4 points per game and added 4.7 rebounds. Jardine was the starting point guard, dishing out 4.9 assists and turning the ball over just 2.3 times per contest. Syracuse had one of the best turnover margins in the nation and Jardine was a huge reason why. Melo was the strong rebounder and amazing shot blocker of the bunch. He swatted away nearly three shots per game and altered countless others. Melo was a good interior scorer too and finding a player who can do it all in the paint will be difficult. Finding a sixth man like Dion Waiters will be nearly impossible. Waiters was second on the squad with 12.6 points per game and proved to be an amazing spark off of the bench on both ends of the floor. It may sound pretty bad losing those four, and it would be for most programs, but Syracuse is ready to reload.
Unlike most teams that lose four major contributors, Syracuse will not have to rely too heavily on freshmen. Coach Boeheim only has two incoming freshmen. But DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant have the ability to make a huge impact on the frontcourt. Coleman, at 6-9 and 288 pounds, fills a big need in the paint. Conditioning is a big issue and Coleman needs to keep his weight in check, but he is a superb all-around center. He can score with his back to the basket against the best the Big East has to throw at him. He is even a good passer and the ability to find a slasher coming to the basket or a shooter spotting up beyond the arc is an often overlooked skill for a big man. Jerami Grant is a lanky 6-7 forward who can play at either forward spot. Grant is a very good athlete who can use his size to play fine defense in Syracuse’s zone. Redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney is not the caliber of player that usually redshirts these days. But there was a lot of talent on the perimeter last season and now he can come in and make a big splash right away. On the surface Cooney is just a spot up shooter, but that does not tell the entire story. Certainly this team will need him to be a shooter, but he can use his 6-4 frame and do a little scoring inside the arc as well.
Who to Watch:
Rakeem Christmas started 35 games as a freshman, but only averaged 11.5 minutes per contest. For a handful of games when Melo was out, Christmas really stepped up his game. He may not be a big scoring threat, but he is a fine rebounder and a great shot blocker. When he does shoot, Christmas usually makes it, but he will rarely get very far away from the basket. With a drastic increase in playing time on the way, Christmas is expected to have a breakout sophomore season. Ideally, Coleman will be starting beside Christmas, so Christmas can spend more time at his more natural four spot. Otherwise, Coach Boeheim will have little choice but to have Christmas at the five. Baye Keita should be able to handle some minutes in the post again this year. As a sophomore the lean 6-10 center averaged 2.3 points and 2.5 rebounds. Keita will always be tough on the glass and it is feasible that he and Coleman can fill up 40 minutes at the center position eventually. That would allow Christmas and James Southerland to man the power forward position. Southerland, one of the few seniors on the roster, is a versatile forward who can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability. Getting some sort of shooting from the frontcourt will be important if C.J. Fair spends most of his time on the wing. Fair, a 6-8 junior, has the athletic ability to play on the wing, but does need to at least be a threat to shoot from outside. After averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds during the 2011-2012 campaign, Fair can be a matchup nightmare for opposing small forwards. Defensively, he is another lanky athlete who is a great fit for the Syracuse zone. If Coleman is ready to start, Fair will see most of his minutes on the wing. However, that is also necessary due to the lack of depth on the perimeter.
Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams will join Cooney as the three main guards on the team. Triche is the new leader of the Orange after averaging 9.4 points and 2.6 assists during his junior year. Triche’s versatility has been utilized by Syracuse over the last three years and will be again this time around. And Triche has always answered the call, whether it be running the point, shooting the long ball or attacking the basket. At 6-6, Carter-Williams does not look like a point guard, but he sure can handle the ball. In just over ten minutes per game last year, he dished out 2.1 assists per game. And he turned it over just over one time every two games. Carter-Williams is a great athlete too and he can score in a variety of ways. Syracuse fans have been waiting to see him get the opportunity to do more and that opportunity has come. Triche may be the leader of the backcourt, but Carter-Williams will make some amazing plays and Cooney will have to be a quality reserve. The depth might be slim for the guards, but the talent is not lacking.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Michael Carter-Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 2.7 points per game
Brandon Triche, Senior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
C.J. Fair, Junior, Forward, 8.5 points per game
Rakeem Christmas, Sophomore, Forward, 2.8 points per game
DaJuan Coleman, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#37 Brandon Triche
#69 Michael Carter-Williams
#88 Rakeem Christmas
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#16 DaJuan Coleman
#49 Jerami Grant