#18 Syracuse Women's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Syracuse Orange
Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
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It looked like Syracuse was going to return four starters to a team that went 25-9 last season. However, a cancer diagnosis for point guard and leading scorer Tiana Mangakahia has put a damper on the expectations. Mangakahia has successfully completed chemotherapy and will sit out this season. All signs point to her return, pending approval of a petition to the NCAA for another season of eligibility, in 2020-2021. On the court though, this is still an Orange team that has the talent and experience to rally for an eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. 
2018-19 Record: 25-9, 11-5
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Quentin Hillsman
Coach Record: 288-145 at Syracuse, 288-145 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Miranda Drummond, Forward, 11.3 ppg
Kadiatou Sissoko, Guard, 3.2 ppg
Isis Young, Guard, 2.3 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Tiana Mangakahia, Senior, Guard, 16.9 ppg
Digna Strautmane, Junior, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Gabrielle Cooper, Senior, Guard, 7.1 ppg
Amaya Finklea-Guity, Junior, Center, 6.4 ppg
Maeya Djaldi-Tabdi, Sophomore, Forward, 8.9 ppg
Kiara Lewis, Junior, Guard, 8.4 ppg
Emily Engstler, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 ppg
Key New Players
Brooke Alexander, Senior, Guard, Grad Transfer from UT Arlington
Elemy Colome, Senior, Guard, Grad Transfer from Rhode Island
Whisper Fisher, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from St. Joseph’s
Teisha Hyman, Freshman, Guard
Alisha Lewis, Freshman, Guard
Taleah Washington, Freshman, Guard
Even without Mangakahia this season, Syracuse returns six of their top eight scorers from a year ago. The frontcourt returns starters Digna Strautmane and Amaya Finlea-Guity and key reserve Maeya Djaldi-Tabdi. Strautmane is the forward who can stretch the defense with her outside shooting. She also led a very balanced rebounding effort with 5.0 per game on top of her 9.5 points. Finklea-Guity and Djaldi-Tabdi are the big bodies in the paint who will play solid defense, help out on the glass and do plenty of interior scoring. Emily Engstler is listed as a guard, but the 6-1 sophomore led the team in blocks per game and averaged 4.5 rebounds despite her limited playing time. With that many options, the Orange can play very big at times. Gabrielle Cooper and Kiara Lewis will be the new leaders on the perimeter. Cooper started all 34 games last year and averaged 7.1 points per game and hit 63 three-pointers. Lewis has yet to live up to her vast potential, but she can score in bunches and handle the ball. Point guard Teisha Hyman could play a larger role this season than expected, but Coach Hillsman also picked up three grad transfers to add more experience to the roster. Elemy Colome comes from Rhode Island where she led the Rams with 14.1 points per game. Brooke Alexander is a consistent outside shooter and spent last season at Texas-Arlington. Whisper Fisher, who comes from St. Joseph’s, will add even more options to the frontcourt. As long as Syracuse can keep the offense rolling without Mangakahia, Syracuse will not only make the NCAA Tournament, but they could push for the top spot in the always difficult ACC.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.2 (19th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.2 (240, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (48, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.0 (119, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.3 (11, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.3 (68, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.3 (44, 6)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (110, 8)
Assists Per Game: 17.2 (15, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.8 (181, 8)
Madness 2019 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#93 Teisha Hyman