#12 Syracuse Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Syracuse Orange

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #3 ACC

Syracuse Team Page#12 Syracuse Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Syracuse Basketball Tickets

Syracuse won their first 25 games last season. It was not until February 19th that the Orange suffered a defeat. Unfortunately for Coach Jim Boeheim and company, they felt defeat many, many times after that first loss. The team lost four of their last six regular season games, fell to North Carolina State in their ACC Tournament opener and lost to Dayton in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The offense went from a smooth, efficient machine to a group that committed too many turnovers and went long stretches without knocking down a shot. The usually stout Syracuse zone took a big step back in March too. Now Coach Boeheim needs to regroup.

2013-14 Record: 28-6, 14-4
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Coach Record: 948-319 at Syracuse, 948-319 overall

Who’s Out:
Coach Boeheim also needs to find some new scorers now that C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant are gone. Fair led the way with 16.5 points per game and added 6.4 rebounds. The Orange offense would often work through Fair in the post, but he could step outside and knock down jumpers too. Ennis averaged 12.9 points per game and added 5.5 assists, 2.1 steals and 3.4 rebounds, during his freshman campaign. Ennis parlayed that success into a spot in the NBA. He was selected 18th overall. Teammate Jerami Grant was taken 39th overall after his sophomore season. The 6-8 forward averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds and was a massive force on both ends of the floor. Keita Baye Moussa added about 15 minutes per game in the frontcourt during his senior year.

Who’s In:
The Orange will rely heavily on freshmen Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough. The expectations are that Joseph will step right into the starting point guard role. He may not be as highly regarded as some other Orange guards over the years, but Joseph is a quick guard who can make things happen. McCullough, a 6-10, 220 pound forward, will step into the starting lineup as well. He is a massive defensive presence and a superb rebounder, but it will take some time before his offense comes around. Carter Sanderson, a graduate transfer from Lipscomb, and freshman Mike Sutton will also suit up for the Orange this year, yet this class is all about Joseph and McCullough.

Who to Watch:
Syracuse will build around their five returning impact players. Trevor Cooney is going to have to turn into the team’s top scorer after averaging 12.1 points as a sophomore. Cooney hit nearly three three-pointers per game and connected on 37.5 percent of his attempts from long range. He is pretty much a catch and shoot player though and finding a way to create off of the dribble would help open up his offense. Michael Gbinije, a 6-7 small forward, is a very versatile player. There is not much that he cannot do, but now Syracuse will need him to possibly step into the starting lineup and do a lot more of everything. The frontcourt will be led by Rakeem Christmas. He has not been much of a scorer during his time with the Orange, but he is a great shot blocker and rebounder. He is efficient when he does look to score, but most of that comes from offensive rebounds. Christmas needs to develop more post moves and at least turn into a scoring threat. The health of Dajuan Coleman is a big factor. The 6-9, 255 pound junior has been banged up the last two years and played in just 13 games in 2013-2014. He is a very strong rebounder and is probably the best pure interior scorer on the team. But how well his knees hold him will dictate how many minutes he can play. Sophomore Tyler Roberson had his moments as a freshman and now it is time to step up, especially if Coleman spends any time on the sidelines.

Final Projection:
This has the look of a Syracuse team that will be amazing defensively and struggle to score. The defense will keep them in just about every game and that is a good place to start. If somebody can step into the leading scorer role and knock down clutch shots, this team will be in good shape. The pressure will be on Joseph to keep the turnovers down after the team committed just nine per game last season. As long as the defense is solid and turnovers are not an issue, Syracuse will compete for an ACC title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Kaleb Joseph, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Trevor Cooney, Junior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Michael Gbinije, Junior, Forward, 3.4 points per game
Chris McCullough, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Rakeem Christmas, Senior, Forward, 5.8 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.0 (254th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.2 (8, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.7 (201, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (56, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (300, 13)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.1 (NR)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (148, 7)
Rebound Margin: 3.8 (54, 4)
Assists Per Game: 11.8 (239, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.0 (5, 1)

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#21 Chris McCullough
#49 Kaleb Joseph


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