#10 Syracuse: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #3 Big East Conference
2009-10: 30-5, 15-3
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Boeheim (829-293 at Syracuse, 829-293 overall)
Coach Jim Boeheim did it again at Syracuse. There were a lot of questions heading into last season, but the Orange emerged as a superb team that finished with an extremely impressive 30-5 overall record. This time around nobody is undervaluing what Coach Boeheim can do. This season, despite the loss of three starters, there are fewer questions and once again the Orange should be ready for a nice NCAA run.
Key Losses: F Wesley Johnson, C Arizne Onuaku, G Andy Rautins
The newcomers could be the key to the success of this team. While there are plenty of returning players to pick up the slack, especially since Syracuse would prefer to go just seven or eight deep, Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair and Fabrico De Melo will all battle for major minutes. Waiters is not much of a shooter for a shooting guard, but he does a great job attacking the basket. Fair is yet another lanky forward who could immediately be a major presence on the defensive end. De Melo is garnering all of the headlines and for good reason. The 7-0 center is probably a one and done player and he should step right into a starting role. Baye Moussa Kieta rounds out the impressive class, but he will likely redshirt.
Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche split the point guard duties last season. One of them will always be running the show this year too, but both could also be in the starting lineup. Jardine put up better overall numbers during his sophomore campaign and would likely be the primary ball handler if both were to start. However, it was Triche who started all 35 games last season while Jardine came in off of the bench. If both are starting, they need to improve their outside shooting…or at least take more shots. Last season they left a majority of the shooting to the now departed Andy Rautins. Now they both need to take more shots. Waiters would be the other starting option if Coach Boeheim wanted to have Jardine come in off the bench once again. Mookie Jones, a 6-6 sophomore, showed glimpses of his shooting ability last season, but he needs to start using his size to attack the basket if he wants to find a spot in the regular rotation.
Kris Joseph is another forward who can stretch out the defense. His range does not quite go out beyond the arc, but he shoot or attack the basket. After averaging 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds last season, Joseph is ready to step into a starting role and continue to put up solid numbers. The departure of Rautins does put some pressure on Joseph to improve his outside shooting and it would be extremely beneficial if Joseph can connect on more than 22.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. If Joseph cannot do it, Jardine and Triche better. Otherwise, the best long range shooting threat on the team would be Jones and it remains to be seen if he can even work his way into Coach Boeheim’s tight rotation. DaShonte Riley is a seven-footer who played sparingly during his freshman campaign. He will not be asked to do much, but he is a fine rebounder and shot blocker. However, a foot injury will likely keep Riley out for the season.
Who to Watch:
Rick Jackson is the new star of the frontcourt. After averaging 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game last season, Jackson is ready for a huge year. Without having Wesley Johnson and Arizine Onuaku with him in the frontcourt, Jackson needs to prove that he can consistently be the Orange’s go-to-guy under the basket. At times last season he would disappear, but it did not really matter since Johnson and Onuaku would pick up the slack. Syracuse cannot afford Jackson to take a night off this season even with De Melo on the floor.
This is a young team, but a team with a whole lot of talent. Syracuse will get the most out of that talent and Coach Boeheim will find a nice seven or eight man rotation by the time conference play starts. That means the Orange will once again be a contender in the Big East and a dangerous team in March.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Scoop Jardine, Junior, Guard, 9.1 ppg
Brandon Triche, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 ppg
Kris Joseph, Junior, Forward, 10.8 ppg
Rick Jackson, Senior, Forward, 9.7 ppg
Fabrico De Melo, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
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