Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim really likes his team, and he should

Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim is providing a bit of praise for his Orange ahead of 2020-21.

One of the character attributes that I admire about Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim is his candidness. Positive or negative, he calls it as he sees it, including when his own team is performing poorly.

So when Boeheim said, via this tweet put out by Matthew Gutierrez of The Athletic, that he believes the Orange is “a really good team this year,” that gets me excited, even if an official game within the 2020-21 campaign is still at least two months away.

The season could start even later than originally planned, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, as NCAA officials and other stakeholders sort out the best approach.

Regardless, Boeheim said in that tweet, “I think we’re going to play this year.” And I wholeheartedly believe him.

Syracuse basketball did lose star forward Elijah Hughes following the 2019-20 stanza, a term in which he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring. You cannot replace Hughes with just one individual.

However, there is a lot to feel optimistic about as it pertains to the ‘Cuse this coming campaign. Syracuse basketball returns four starters from a year ago, all of whom have that year of experience under their belts.

I’m hopeful that will result in a much-improved 2-3 zone from 2019-20, when the Orange really struggled at times on defense.

The Syracuse basketball roster in 2020-21 contains the full docket of 13 scholarship players, so Boeheim, if he so chooses, can rely on a deep bench. There is a nice blend of veterans and newbies within the ‘Cuse line-up.

Now, I don’t necessarily think that Syracuse basketball will significantly contend for an ACC crown in 2020-21, but you never know. Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Florida State are probably the four best squads in the league, at least as far as pre-season prognostications are concerned.

Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim is high on his group in 2020-21, and there are plenty of reasons to agree with him.

Yet with Alan Griffin, a junior wing, getting an NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility, that should boost the outlook for the Orange this term.

Griffin, a talented scorer and rebounder, transferred to the Hill from Illinois. Multiple media outlets have anointed him as a top-15 transfer nationally in the current cycle of guys who may officially compete in 2020-21.

Additionally, Syracuse basketball just got a late commitment from 2020 small forward Chaz Owens, the son of former ‘Cuse legend Billy Owens. That development provided the Orange with its 13th scholarship player for 2020-21.

Depending on how you view the rotation, Syracuse basketball could have three guards, six forwards and four centers. If Griffin potentially slides into a shooting-guard role on occasion, that gives the ‘Cuse four guards, five forwards and four centers. Solid balance.

Overall throughout the country, the Orange 2020 recruiting class isn’t highly rated, but that doesn’t faze me. These guys can ball. Four-star combo guard Kadary Richmond is getting a lot of buzz, and he’s joined by four-star power forward Woody Newton, four-star center Frank Anselem, Chaz Owens and Griffin, although he’s obviously not a freshman.

Sophomore point guard Joe Girard III and junior shooting guard Buddy Boeheim will shine in 2020-21, as they bring lights-out scoring and play-making. Senior forward Marek Dolezaj and senior center Bourama Sidibe are “much stronger this year,” according to Boeheim.

For my money, Syracuse basketball will amount to a fringe top-25 team, top-six ACC crew and NCAA Tournament participant when all is said and done.