Can the Orange overcome the NCAA sanctions?
Earlier this year, Syracuse was hit with NCAA sanctions stemming from academic misconduct over the past decade. Head coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for the first nine intra conference games of the season and the university will lose three scholarships in each of the next four seasons. So, the biggest question is: can the Orange overcome these sanctions and succeed in the 2015-2016 basketball season?
Current SU assistant head coach Mike Hopkins will be taking over head coaching responsibilities during Boeheim’s absence. Hopkin’s ability to fill the void left by Jim Boeheim is not in question, as he has been on Boeheim’s coaching staff for the last eighteen seasons.
Aside from the different coaching staff, SU will feature an altered roster as well. With the departures of Chris McCullough and Rakeem Christmas to the draft and the transfer of B.J. Johnson (LaSalle) and Ron Patterson (IUPUI), the Orange will look significantly different than last year’s 18-13 team. The Orange will return four starters from last year’s team, with Kaleb Joseph, Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Tyler Roberson all likely remaining in the starting lineup. The fifth starter will likely be 6’9” center Dajuan Coleman, who missed the past two seasons with a lingering knee injury.
With the 12th overall recruiting class in the nation (per Rivals.com), the Orange’s reserves have also undergone a significant change. This stellar recruiting class is headlined by the number 35 overall recruit, 6’5” small forward Malachi Richardson out of Trenton Catholic in New Jersey. Also joining the Orange roster are power forward Tyler Lydon, center Moustapha Diagne, and shooting guard Franklin Howard. Richardson will likely serve as the 6th man with Lydon, Diagne and Howard playing quality minutes off the bench.
While the NCAA sanctions loom over the Orange, the season looks bright. Guard Michael Gbinjie (12.7 ppg last season) looks to continue his success from last season and Dajuan Coleman is returning to action after recovering from his knee injury. If role players such as Trevor Cooney (13.4 ppg) and Tyler Roberson (8.3 ppg) return to form and the exciting 2015 recruiting class lives up to the hype, this could be a very thrilling and successful season for the Orange.
All the obstacles will be challenging to overcome, but I believe that the Orange can return to the success that the university, and its fans, is accustom to.