Tyler Roberson

Associated Press

Tyler Lydon’s versatility a key factor for Syracuse

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When programs lose scholarships as part of NCAA sanctions the top-end talent isn’t impacted all that much, especially in the case of a program such as Syracuse’s men’s basketball. Where the impact is felt is in recruiting, where there’s far less room for misevaluations of talent, and in depth.

Issues such as foul trouble and injuries, which in most instances can be navigated with a full allotment of scholarships, become a greater problem when working with fewer than 13 athletic grants-in-aid.

This makes the play of players such as versatile 6-foot-9 freshman forward Tyler Lydon of high importance for the Orange, as they look to contend in the ACC in 2015-16. Lydon’s ability to play a variety of roles in the front court will be key for Syracuse this season, as noted by Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Whether or not Lydon starts, he will play. A lot. Not just because he’s good (he is), but also because he’s so versatile.

He could be the small forward in a lineup with returning power forward Tyler Roberson and junior center Dajuan Coleman. He could be a stretch four in a smaller lineup. And it’s possible that he could become the center when SU coach Jim Boeheim decides to go with a three-forward look.

With Rakeem Christman and Chris McCullough in the NBA and Moustapha Diagne not being cleared to enroll, Syracuse isn’t all that deep in the front court. And with DaJuan Coleman having dealt with injuries throughout his career, it remains to be seen just how much he can give the Orange in 2015-16.

Junior Tyler Roberson is the known commodity at this time, as he accounted for 8.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest last season. Who else steps forward alongside Roberson will have a major impact on Syracuse’s fortunes. Lydon is the one front court player with the skill and versatility needed to help the Orange in multiple roles.

Syracuse sophomore forward discusses abdominal strain that cost him two games

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After missing Syracuse’s comfortable wins over Loyola (MD) and Holy Cross with an abdominal strain, 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Tyler Roberson made his return to the lineup Tuesday night in the Orange’s 68-65 loss to Michigan. Roberson played just 12 minutes Tuesday night, scoring five points and grabbing one rebound.

Thursday Roberson discussed the impact the injury had on him from a mobility standpoint, according to Donna Ditota of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

“I was trying to play through it early in the season but I felt like I wasn’t so effective,” he said. “So I decided to sit out some games. The injury prevented me from being explosive, or really running full-speed, so I was basically like playing almost halfway out there.”

Senior Rakeem Christmas and freshman Chris McCullough, who are also the team’s top two scorers, will lead the way in the front court for Syracuse. But given the lack of a bonafide “star” the Orange will need contributions from a number of players if they’re to contend in the ACC.

One of the supplementary options is Roberson, who through five games is averaging 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest. He’s one of three reserves averaging between 6.2 and 6.7 points per game, with guards Michael Gbinije and B.J. Johnson being the others.

Syracuse forward’s status against Michigan unknown

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Syracuse defeated Holy Cross, 72-48, without the services of starting small forward Tyler Roberson for the second straight game.

The Orange travel to Ann Arbor on Tuesday night for their ACC/Big Ten Challenge against No. 19 Michigan. Entering that contest, the status of Roberson remains unknown, according to Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com.

“I have no idea,” Jim Boeheim told reporters when asked about Roberson’s availability on Tuesday.

Roberson has been sidelined with a strained muscle for Syracuse’s wins against Loyola (MD) and Holy Cross. Syracuse is still dealing with the absence of Dajuan Coleman, who has not played this season.

“He practiced for a few minutes the other day and was good. And then after 30-40 minutes, he was hurt,” Boeheim said. “It’s just a strain. That’s all it is. Nothing serious.”

The sophomore forward is averaging 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in his expanded role this season. Fellow sophomore B.J. Johnson has filled in his role as starter over the last two games.

2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 7 Syracuse Orange

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 30-10, 11-7 Big East (5th); Lost to Michigan in the Final Four

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim (35th season Syracuse: 920-313 overall, 362-191 Big East)

Key Losses: Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche, James Southerland

Newcomers: Tyler Ennis, Michael Gbinije, Tyler Roberson, B.J. Johnson, Ron Patterson, Chinonso Obokoh

Projected Lineup

G: Tyler Ennis, Fr.
G: Michael Gbinije, So.
F: C.J. Fair, Sr.
F: Jerami Grant, So.
C: Rakeem Christmas, Jr.
Bench: Trevor Cooney, So.; Tyler Roberson, Fr.; B.J. Johnson, Fr.; Ron Patterson, Fr.; DaJuan Coleman, So.; Baye Keita, Sr.

They’ll be good because …: Once again, this Syracuse roster is loaded with the kind of talent that fits perfectly into the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim utilizes. He’s got seven front court players on his roster, and with the exception of DaJuan Coleman, all of them are terrific athletes with wingspans reminiscent of a pterodactyl. The back court isn’t quite as deep, but Boeheim still has a slew of bigger guards on his roster, and while it will be difficult to replace Michael Carter-Williams’ disruptiveness on the defensive end of the floor, the Orange still figure to be tough to score on in their zone. The fact that they’re making the move to the ACC, where most of their league opponents won’t be accustomed to playing against that zone, certainly doesn’t hurt.

The offensive end is going to be tougher to figure out. C.J. Fair is one of the nation’s most underrated players, as he averaged 14.5 points and 6.9 boards for a Final Four team a year ago. The 6-foot-8 lefty should be Boeheim’s leading scorer this season. It will be interesting to see who steps up in his supporting cast. Jerami Grant played a lot of promising minutes when he got the chance last season, Trevor Cooney is a better shooter than he showed last year, Duke transfer Michael Gbinije was a top 30 recruit coming out of high school and Tyler Ennis has all kinds of promise. Looking at this roster optimistically, there’s a lot to like here.

C.J. Fair (Getty Images) and Tyler Ennis (Syracuse Athletics)

But they might disappoint because …: Outside of Fair, there really isn’t a proven commodity on this roster, meaning there is a lot that can go wrong. What is neither Cooney nor Gbinije become reliable perimeter shooters? What if Grant doesn’t take the jump we all expect out of him? What if Boeheim continues to struggle to find any kind of consistency from his trio of centers?

The bigger concern revolves around Ennis. He’s a freshman. He’s also the only true point guard that Syracuse has on their roster, and he’s replacing an all-american that averaged 7.3 assists and 2.8 steals. Carter-Williams had his flaws, and they were exposed late in Big East play last season, but he was still an insanely talented player — he got the Orange a lot of easy shots and was a terror defensively — that played some of his best basketball during the NCAA tournament. Those are big shoes for Ennis to fill, especially when you consider that Syracuse does not have a lot of guys that can create for themselves. The pressure on his shoulders this season will be immense.

Outlook: The ACC is loaded this season, particularly at the top of the league. While most will peg the Orange a contender alongside both Duke and North Carolina, it’s important to note that both Notre Dame and Virginia are good enough that they could end up piecing together a top two or three finish in the league. In other words, the margin of error for the Orange is going to be pretty small, as it was in recent years in the Big East.

I like the Orange this year. I think they have the pieces to put together a successful inaugural run through Tobacco Road. But there are a lot of new parts on that roster, and it’s easy to see how some of those pieces could have some trouble coming together. If Ennis is overwhelmed at the point and Cooney and Gbinije struggle offensively, the Orange aren’t going to be able to score the ball. But if Ennis lives up to the hype, Coleman and Grant have breakout sophomore seasons, and Syracuse is able to knock down some perimeter jumpers, this is very much a team that can make a run to the Final Four.

Syracuse freshman Tyler Roberson cleared to play this season


Good news hit upstate New York this morning as the NCAA informed Syracuse that incoming freshman Tyler Roberson has been cleared to play immediately. The news was first reported by Jon Rothstein.

Sources told NBCSports.com that he was on campus this morning. According to Syracuse.com, Roberson will be attending class for the first time today. The fall semester at Syracuse started last week.

Roberson, a top 40 recruit according to Rivals, is your prototypical Syracuse forward: he’s 6-foot-8, he’s athletic and he’s got long and lanky arms that will creates problems in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone.

The hold up for Roberson was waiting for his high school transcript to be cleared through the NCAA’s Eligibility Center. Per Mike Waters of Syracuse.com, Roberson took summer courses at Roselle Catholic, his high school, in order to raise his GPA, and the NCAA’s vetting of that coursework was the cause of the two-week hold-up.

It’s a relief for the Orange — and for Roberson — to have this process over with and to finally get him into class and into the program, but there is frustration as well. He’s behind his classmates and his teammates now, but making up a week’s worth of work is better than trying to make up a semester or a full year.

Kennedy Meeks picks North Carolina, one of four 2013 recruits to commit Friday

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The early signing period began on Wednesday and for several top 2013 recruits, their decisions were made Friday night.

Kennedy Meeks (West Charlotte High/Charlotte, NC) decided to stick in-state and committed to North Carolina. The 6-foot-9 Meeks joins point guard Nate Britt (Oak Hill/Washington DC) and power forward Isaiah Hicks (Webb High/Oxford, NC) as part of Roy Williams’ 2013 class.

Meeks has great size and is a big man that should control the glass at Chapel Hill. He’s unlike some of the more recent Tar Heel bigs like Tyler Zeller or John Henson. He isn’t very athletic, but can develop into a good low-post player.  Also a gifted passer for a big man. Meeks picked UNC over Georgetown.

Another center, Beejay Anya (DeMatha Catholic/Gaithersburg, MD) committed to the only team on his list, N.C. State over several other schools. The 6-foot-9 Anya, had recently cut his list down to just the Wolfpack and Indiana. However Tom Crean wanted to focus solely on landing Noah Vonleh.

Anya and power forward Kyle Washington (Brewster Academy/Champlin, MN) give Mark Gottfried a solid frontcourt to work with next year, along with point guard Anthony Barber (Hampton High/Hampton, VA).

Tyler Roberson (Roselle Catholic High/Union, NJ) made Syracuse’s recruiting class even more impressive on Friday. The 6-foot-7 forward joins guards Tyler Ennis (St. Benedict’s/Brampton, Ont., CA) and Ron Patterson (Brewster Academy/Indianapolis, IN), as well as big men B.J. Johnson (Lower Merion High/Ardmore, PA) and Chinoso Obokoh (Bishop Kearney High/Rochester, NY).

Roberson brings another long, athletic, versatile forward, Jim Boeheim continues to plug into his 2-3 zone.

Shooting guard Isaac Hamilton (Saint John Bosco High/Los Angeles, CA) picked UTEP over San Diego State, UCLA, and UNLV, according to ESPN.  Hamilton is a consensus top-25 recruit in the Class of 2013.

Miners get a big-time commit. The 6-foot-5 Hamilton gives UTEP an impact freshman for next season.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne