Syracuse Basketball: Stellar backcourt blending talented vets and newbies

Syracuse basketball (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images) /

As we look ahead to the upcoming 2022-23 season for Syracuse basketball, the team’s roster is undergoing a vastly remade line-up.

The Boeheim brothers, Cole Swider, Bourama Sidibe and Frank Anselem are gone. Chaz Owens is in the NCAA’s transfer portal.

The Orange is welcoming a strong six-member 2022 recruiting class to the Hill, along with center Mounir Hima, who is transferring in from Duquesne.

There is a core group of returning veterans, but also a bunch of incoming freshmen and underclassmen.

Will the ‘Cuse reside on the Big Dance bubble, as it has on so many occasions since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 2013-14 campaign? Perhaps.

But one aspect of the Orange’s 2022-23 roster that I’m particularly stoked about is the squad’s backcourt. It possesses five players, both seniors and freshmen, and I believe this group is going to prove an excellent facet of the team’s overall line-up in the upcoming term.

The Syracuse basketball backcourt should be really, really good this season.

Now, let’s take a look at what the Orange’s guards can, hopefully, do in 2022-23. First and foremost, there is returning starter Joe Girard III, a rising senior who has mostly competed at point guard in Central New York, as well as rising senior Symir Torrence.

I’ve prognosticated that these two veterans will be the starting backcourt for head coach Jim Boeheim at the commencement of 2022-23.

Personally, I feel like Torrence will start at point guard, and he’s shown that he is a tenacious defender, boasts athleticism and quickness, and is proficient at driving the lane and facilitating for others.

Girard, who has the ability to score points in droves and can light things up from beyond the arc, is more naturally a shooting guard than a point guard, in my humble opinion. So from my perspective, I think that Boeheim will start him at the two-guard spot.

If Torrence does end up coming off of the bench as a key reserve, then I would imagine 2022 four-star commit Judah Mintz could end up starting at point guard.

Mintz is a combo guard, and a ton of experts have opined that he will make a tremendous impact for the ‘Cuse in his freshman stint. Since he suited up in arguably the toughest high-school league as a senior, I don’t think he will have difficulty adjusting to the college level in his first stanza on the Hill.

Mintz is an athletic and versatile three-way scorer. He shines in the mid-range and at attacking the basket. He’s also a solid shooter from downtown. Perhaps equally as important, Mintz is praised by analysts and scouts for his defensive skill-set.

The other two primary guards on the 2022-23 roster for Syracuse basketball are incoming freshmen Justin Taylor, a four-star shooting guard/small forward, and Quadir Copeland, a four-star point guard.

As I’ve said in the past, and some experts have agreed with my belief here, it’s entirely possible that Copeland doesn’t see a ton of court time in 2022-23.

He has stellar size and length for a lead guard, his court vision is excellent, and he has a knack for making highlight-style plays.

The two main areas, per experts, where Copeland needs to continue honing his craft center on his perimeter shooting and his tendency to sometimes commit turnovers.

Taylor, meanwhile, has a strong frame and great size for a wing player. While he’s known as a shooter, some experts have said that his athleticism is undervalued.

To me, I could envision Taylor actually starting at the small-forward position for Boeheim, but Taylor is a shooting guard, too. Regardless of the position or positions that he plays in 2022-23, I believe he is poised to earn a lot of run in his freshman term.

Naturally, some of my fellow Syracuse basketball fans have suggested that the team having a five-member backcourt will lead to several guys not playing much this season, and that could result in one or more of them electing to transfer.

That’s certainly a possibility, particularly since the NCAA now allows student-athletes in all sports to transfer once and still retain immediate eligibility.

But, for the time being, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Between the complementary strengths that Girard and Torrence boast, I love this duo’s outlook for 2022-23. They’re rising seniors, they’re veterans, and they’ll be leaders in the upcoming campaign.

Add to that three talented 2022 four-star signees in Mintz, Taylor and Copeland, all of whom bring something unique and positive to the table, and I for one am quite jazzed about what the Orange’s guard unit could achieve for Syracuse basketball in the fall and winter months lurking on the horizon.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Projected starting rotation for the 2022-23 season. dark