How will the Orange bounce back?
SYRAC– USE, NY- On March 6th of this year, the Syracuse basketball program received perhaps the harshest sanctions it’s ever seen. After violating several NCAA policies in relation to academic oversight, booster involvement, and other forms of misconduct for nearly a decade, the program finds itself in a little distress. In hopes of preventing a more severe punishment, the team suspended itself from the 2015 postseason. However, they would inevitably face an even greater penalty. Twelve scholarships would be lost over the next four years. This is any thriving college team’s nightmare as the Orange will lose some of the premier talent it’s been scouting for years. Syracuse coach, and all-around icon of Syracuse basketball, Jim Boeheim may have received the worst of it though, vacating wins dating back to the 2004-2005 season. He also faces suspension for the first nine games of the 2015-2016 season. Long time assistant coach, Mike Hopkins, will lead the Orange in the first nine games this year and will officially be taking over for Jim Boeheim after he retires in three years.
Coming off an inconsistent year, the Orange will be returning a good portion of their roster but are losing a couple of big impact players, Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough (both first round draft picks). In order to replace the big man presence, DaJuan Coleman will need to come back healthy after an injured season (knee) and much improved from two seasons ago. Talented sophomore point guard, Kaleb Joseph, will need to play with more intelligence this year with a spotty season of experience behind him. Trevor Cooney needs to stay hot from beyond the arc and emerge as the team’s leader in his final year wearing orange. The Orange also add some young talent this year, highlighted by Freshman Malachi Richardson. The 6-6 shooting guard will be competing with Cooney and Michael Gbinije for playing time but will definitely need to become a factor this season for Syracuse. Expect to see a sense of urgency from Syracuse coaches and players this season as Mike Hopkins tries to prove his worthiness of becoming head coach and Jim Boeheim looks to heighten his resume a bit in his last years. Young recruits will also be pushing upperclassmen to not slip and perform at the highest level possible.
Once again the ACC is looking to remain a dominant conference in college basketball having teams like North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia already projected to be ranked in the top ten. Strength of schedule can really help the Orange this season if they’re able to pull off some wins against these challenging teams. It will be interesting to see how a little bit of experience will affect this Syracuse lineup as the countdown to November begins.
Dane Van Benthuysen ‘18