The good: Once again, the Orange lost their three top players from an NCAA tournament team. Once again, they’ll rebound nicely.
Syracuse’s stellar freshman class is headed by center Fab Melo, a 7-foot, 265-pound beast who displays good footwork with his rebounding ability. He’ll replace Arinze Onuaku. Dion Waiters, a 6-4, 210-pound freshman, steps into Andy Rautins’ role as the dangerous scorer, albeit without Rautins’ impressive shooting range. And Kris Joseph, a 6-7 junior, becomes the team’s go-to scorer and best NBA prospect, a la Wes Johnson. Who said replacing star players was hard?
The bad: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim rarely uses more than a 7-man rotation, and this year will be no different. Thanks to the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense, tired legs aren’t a problem with the short bench, but injuries are.
Losing Onuaku before the NCAA tourney created a void in the middle of that 2-3 zone to which Syracuse never quite adjusted. Anything similar this season would likely have similar results.
The unknown: Can point guards Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche continue to co-exist? The pair performed superbly last season and were the main reason ‘Cuse led the nation in assists. But driving into the lane and kicking out to Johnson or Rautins is easy.
This year, they’ll have to do more scoring (a few 3-pointers wouldn’t hurt) and take care of the ball. Both turned it over once in every four trips last season.