SYRACUSE WILL HAVE DIFFERENT LOOK IN 2012-2013; EXPECT SAME GREAT RESULTS
Jim Boeheim just saw his 36th season as head coach Syracuse come to a close in Boston on Saturday night with a 77-70 loss to Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament’s East Region final. In those 36 seasons there has been tremendous highs, including three trips to the Final Four culminating in a National Championship in 2003. There has also been tough defeats, including NCAA Tournament losses coming before many would have guessed, like their monumental upset loss at the hands of the 15th seed Richmond Spiders in 1991.
Through it all, Syracuse always bounces back. The Orange has seen a parade of All-Americans and NBA Draft picks come through their program, yet the teams under Boeheim continue to win. SU has won 20 or more games 15 straight seasons and 34 of 36 seasons overall. In the 33 seasons in the BIG EAST a Boeheim-led team has only failed to be .500 or better in the conference twice, in 1980-81 (6-8) and in 2005-06 (7-9) when Gerry McNamara led SU to the Big East Tournament championship.
No season however in his 36 at Syracuse might have been as trying as this past one.
Despite a BIG EAST regular season championship, No. 1 seed and Elite 8 appearance…the past seven months have been anything but ordinary. Some media members have painted the picture of a three-ring circus around Syracuse these days.
Longtime assistant, and Boeheim friend, Bernie Fine was fired in November amid child molestation accusations. Boeheim himself was under fire for his steadfast support of Fine when the allegations were made public, being accussed of intimidating witnesses or other possible victims from coming forward in the media. A Yahoo! Sports report earlier in he month of March alleged that the program had repeatedly violated the school’s drug policy when concerning the basketball program. To cap it all off, starting center Fab Melo was deemed ineligible twice, including the school’s announcement two days before the NCAA tournament began.
Now the thoughts shift toward next season, in what is almost definitely the final seson Syracuse will compete in the BIG EAST before a move to the ACC becomes a reality. Rock-solid seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph will graduate from the program and sophomores Fab Melo and Dion Waiters are most likely to hear their names called in the 1st round of the 2012 NCAA Draft later this spring.
Syracuse will not return a double-digit scorer next season, losing their leading scorer (Joseph, 13.4 ppg), leading rebounder (Melo, 5.8 rpg) and leading assist man (Jardine 4.9 apg). Other statistical leaders include Waiters (steals) and Melo (blocks).
So, how will they do it again? Easy…just like they always have.
Syracuse has a style and system in place. Players are waiting in the wings to step forward and assume their spots in the patented 2-3 zone defense Boeheim and the ‘Cuse are famous for.
Brandon Triche will assume the leadership role as a senior. On Saturday night Triche hit several big shots down the stretch and that confidence will be a major help as his role becomes more of a scorer next season. The loss of Waiters will be a major void as the sophomore from Philadelphia was ready to emerge as an elite talent in the BIG EAST. However, Michael Carter-Williams has a superb scoring touch and the length and size to be a menace at the top of the zone. Sharp-shooting Trevor Cooney will also be ready to give significant minutes in the backcourt after redshirting this past season.
The forward positions look set with C.J. Fair and James Southerland likely on each block of the zone. Fair will be the player most likely to break out next season on the Orange. The left-hander has a knack around the rim to score and his 15-foot jumper is getting more and more consistent. Consistency is something SU will need more of from Southerland, a 6’8 SF who can knock them down from beyond the arc, but a clear path to playing time and an increased role sometimes does wonders for shooters and is likely to do so for the NYC product. The Orange will also welcome DeMatha (MD) product Jerami Grant to the mix. Grant is another 6-foot-8 forward with length and athleticism that will be ideal in the Syracuse system.
In the middle SU will return Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita. Each is a bouncy shot-blocker that provided solid minutes throughout the year. They will be bolstered by the addition of Jamesville-Dewitt (NY) wide-body Dajuan Coleman. The 6-foot-8, 280-lb Coleman has the hands, touch and bulk to anchor the middle for SU next season. He will provide the size and be a perfect compliment to the other front court players.
While the players might be changing, Jim Boeheim is still the constant on the sideline. He will mold a new group of faces to look just like the Syracuse teams that reside in the Top 25 each season and near the top of the BIG EAST. It might be the last time we see the Orange in the BIG EAST standings, but you can be certain to pencil them in for 10-12 conference wins, 25 wins overall and a dangerous team come NCAA Tournament time. That you can count on…