Syracuse basketball has strong depth this term, and hopefully it is utilized

Syracuse basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim often uses a relatively short rotation, but maybe 2020-21 will prove something different.

Syracuse basketball begins its 2020-21 campaign in just a few short weeks, and expectations from national pundits are fairly tempered. That holds true for much of the fan base, although a contingent of Orange fanatics, myself included, believe that the ‘Cuse is in store for a solid term.

By solid, I foresee Syracuse basketball as a fringe top-25 team, a top-six outfit in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and a squad that will hear its name called on Selection Sunday next spring.

A young and inexperienced line-up from 2019-20, when the Orange went 18-14, will likely blossom into a roster filled with veteran leaders and promising newbies. And, unlike in some other recent stanzas, the ‘Cuse boasts the full allotment of 13 scholarship players.

Let’s get real. Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, entering his 45th season at the helm on the Hill, typically utilizes a rotation of around seven to eight guys.

While the odds are that he will continue such a pattern in 2020-21, my hope is that Boeheim and his assistants will ease up on this trend and go deeper down the line on the bench in the upcoming campaign.

Without question, replacing former Orange star forward Elijah Hughes is nearly impossible. He led the ACC in scoring during 2019-20, rebounded and dished out assists well, and should get selected in the 2020 NBA Draft slated to occur later this month.

However, there is much to like about the present ‘Cuse roster, particularly because it possesses appealing and intriguing depth at every position. Let’s examine.

Syracuse basketball has 13 scholarship players this year, and the coaching staff should give a range of guys quality minutes.

Sophomore Joe Girard III and junior Buddy Boeheim will once again start at point guard and shooting guard, respectively, unless something weird transpires.

I think they’re both primed for special 2020-21 stanzas, although it’s not required for either of them to stay on the court for 35-plus minutes per contest.

Freshman Kadary Richmond, a top-100 prospect coming out of high school, is garnering all kinds of praise from Orange coaches and national pundits alike.

From what I can tell, Richmond has the agility to suit up at point guard, shooting guard and small forward. Yes, please. What’s more, the versatility of Illinois transfer Alan Griffin, who has received a waiver from the NCAA for immediate eligibility, means he can probably play some shooting guard, in addition to small forward.

The forward group is absolutely stocked for Syracuse basketball. Senior Marek Dolezaj will start at power forward. Griffin, a junior, likely gets the starting nod at small forward, although sophomore Quincy Guerrier should earn significant court time as well.

Besides those three guys, the Orange also has three other potential contributors in redshirt sophomore Robert Braswell, as well as freshmen Woody Newton and Chaz Owens. I really would like to see Braswell get some run in 2020-21.

A lot of ‘Cuse fans, and appropriately so, are frustrated by the lack of production at the center spot in recent terms. I get it. I’m cautiously optimistic that this position could see improvements in the 2020-21 season.

For one, senior starter Bourama Sidibe put forth numerous stellar performances near the culmination of 2019-20, and hopefully he will keep on doing that in the upcoming stanza.

Behind Sidibe in the rotation are sophomore Jesse Edwards, redshirt freshman John Bol Ajak and freshman Frank Anselem. All three have potential, and it will prove interesting to watch which player ultimately serves as Sidibe’s primary back-up. Dolezaj can also slide into the center role if needed.

Until the Orange roster starts competing in actual games, how Syracuse basketball will fare in 2020-21 remains unclear. Replacing Hughes’ scoring production is tough, and the entire team has to vastly improve in the 2-3 zone, as well as in the rebounding department.

Yet, from my perspective anyway, the excitement over this current line-up, which contains terrific depth and versatility, is undeniable.

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