Our ACC Basketball previews continue with one of the preseason favorites, and a newcomer to the league, the Syracuse Orange.
Note: Our preview below is missing a few of the preview features since Syracuse is new to the league.
ACC Season Previews
Boston College | Clemson | Duke | FSU | Georgia Tech
Maryland | Miami | North Carolina | NC State | Notre Dame
Pittsburgh | Syracuse
Syracuse Season Preview
Record Last Season
30 - 10, 11 - 7 Big East
Brandon Triche, James Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams
Tyler Ennis, BJ Johnson, Tyler Roberson, Ron Patterson, Chinoso Obokoh
Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney, CJ Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman
11/25 vs Minnesota, 12/3 vs Indiana, 12/15 @ St. John's, 12/28 vs Villanova
Syracuse Scouting Report
Things to Watch
The second-winningest coach in men's college basketball history is bringing his Syracuse squad to the ACC following somewhat unexpected Final Four campaign. Jim Boeheim will have some re-tooling to do with two starters and the top bench option gone from last season's team. Luckily for the Orange, a strong frontcourt and a solid recruiting class should have them back on track once again this year. The ACC newcomers could have the frontrunners for both player and rookie of the year at critical positions. If the incoming players can handle the backcourt, Boeheim's club will see a successful transition to their new league.
This will be the group the determines how well the Syracuse machine runs. After losing Brandon Triche, who started every game for four years, to graduation and Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA, very little experience returns to the guard spots. Stepping in at the point guard position is true freshman Tyler Ennis. Ennis was a consensus top 50 recruit who will look to be a scoring option at the point. Fellow freshman Ron Patterson will probably spell Ennis at the point as well as see some time at the 2 guard.
The starting battle for the off-guard spot looks to be between sophomores Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije. Cooney struggled in his role as a shooter off the bench, only hitting 26.7% from the three point line. For him to gain the starting role, that number will have to be closer to 40%. Gbinije did not play much as a freshman at Duke, so not a lot is known about what to expect. He does, however, bring size to the wing at 6'7". A pair of fellow 6'7" wings, freshmen B.J. Johnson and Tyler Roberson may see a little time at the 2, but will most likely see most of their minutes at the forward positions.
Jim Boeheim's teams are known for long, athletic forwards, and this team is no different. The star of this squad is senior C.J. Fair. He had a breakout junior season with 14.5 points and 7 rebounds per game. Fair was voted as the preseason player of the year, and could win the award if he improves on those numbers at all. There are several candidates to start at the other forward position, but sophomore Jerami Grant has to be the frontrunner. Grant scored 3.9 points in just over 14 minutes per game. Grant is the typical Boeheim forward at 6'8" with tons of athleticism. Johnson and Roberson will be the primary backups as forwards.
The center of the 2-3 zones that is famous at Syracuse will manned by a talented trio with different skill sets. Junior Rakeem Christmas was the starter for all 40 games a year ago. In 20 minute per contest, Christmas averaged 5.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. His main competition for minutes is Baye MoussaKeita, who gradually improved his first three seasons on campus. Keita is not much of a scoring threat, but is a force on the boards and defensively. DaJuan Coleman is more of an offensive threat at center and will likely see more time at forward, as he does not fit the defensive mold at the center of the zone. He could be a breakout performer if his conditioning has improved. True freshman center Chinonso Obokoh is a likely redshirt candidate.
The biggest games for the Orange early in the season will take place at the Maui Invitational. They will meet Minnesota in the opener and then either Arkansas or California as well as a third game. Home dates with Indiana and Villanova as well as a trip to St. John's highlight the rest of the non-conference schedule. Syracuse will see Boston College, Duke, Miami, and Pittsburgh each twice in their inaugural ACC season.
While there should be some drop-off from last season's run, Syracuse should have no trouble making the NCAA tournament once again. The Orange will be deep and talented in the frontcourt, but will need Ennis to be ready immediately. Jim Boeheim's teams are always well-prepared and a pain to play, and this year will be no different. The conference new boys look set for a top 3 finish in the ACC and should make at least the Round of 32 come March.
by Matt Purdy @UMWolfpack87
Fantasy Player to Watch
The most obvious is choice is C.J. Fair. He should increase his scoring to over 15 per game as the go-to option on the offensive end. His 75% free throw shooting will bode well with the new rules regarding fouls that will take place this season. If he can maintain his rebounding numbers, Fair will be a fantasy stalwart. Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis could develop into other solid fantasy options.
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