There’s such high turnover in college basketball these days that it usually takes me about a month to figure out what kind of team Cuse basketball has in any given year. Last season Boeheim led a talented group that overachieved all the way to the Final Four. Last year’s team was a lot of fun to watch but then our two starting guards left (Triche graduated and Michael Carter-Williams entered the draft to become a double-double machine). Enter Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney and Jerami Grant.
Cooney and Grant were of course on last year’s roster but both are seeing expanded playing team, leading to breakout seasons. Ennis is basically Michael Carter-Williams 2.0 and he’s just a freshman. Cooney is shooting almost 50% from behind the arc and he has improved immensely on the defensive end. Not to mention the leader of the team C.J. Fair, who is a year older and developed a mid-range jumper to go along with his strong post play. Coleman has slimmed down and Christmas has another year of experience under his belt. Finally, as the season goes on, I’m also looking for Patterson and Gbinije to take on bigger roles.
I know it’s early but this 2013-2014 team has really impressed me it is first 9 games. In typical Boeheim fashion, we have played a lot of home games against less than average opponents but don’t forget we traveled to Hawaii to win the Maui Invitational as well. Nobody knows what to expect from the ACC schedule but this is a talented team that will makes waves in the new conference. A month into the season, we seem built for another deep tournament run.
Sunday, The Orange plays at Madison Square Garden, their home away from home, against St. Johns. Our first real test will come against an old Big East foe in tenth-ranked Villanova. The ACC schedule begins at the start of the new year and it includes trips to the Carrier Dome for both Duke and UNC. It’s definitely early but I have no shame in getting excited about Syracuse returning to the Final Four for the second straight year.