begins his first year as the Syracuse basketball head coach in earl..."/> begins his first year as the Syracuse basketball head coach in earl..."/> begins his first year as the Syracuse basketball head coach in earl..."/>

Syracuse Basketball: With Adrian Autry at helm, get ready for deep rotation

Syracuse basketball, Adrian Autry (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Adrian Autry (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images) /

Long-time assistant Adrian Autry begins his first year as the Syracuse basketball head coach in early November when the 2023-24 season officially gets underway, and Autry has said more than once that he’s likely to play a deep rotation.

In 2023-24, the Orange line-up boasts 13 scholarship players, and it’s filled with athletic, versatile guys who can suit up at multiple positions.

It remains to be seen whether the ‘Cuse will return to the NCAA Tournament next spring after a two-year absence, but regardless of wins and losses, this Orange squad will prove fun to watch.

One of the gripes that I’ve heard from some Syracuse basketball fans in recent years is that they wanted to see then-head coach Jim Boeheim play a deeper bench. Now, Boeheim is a legendary Hall of Fame head coach, so it’s tough for me to criticize him, but I do get the frustration from some fans.

Syracuse basketball first-year head coach Adrian Autry says he’s likely to use a relatively deep bench.

Naturally, how deep of a rotation is utilized depends on personnel. What’s more, Boeheim relied almost exclusively on a 2-3 zone defense. Adrian Autry has said he will play a lot of man-to-man defense, he will play at an up-tempo pace, and I could envision Syracuse basketball pressing a good amount while also pushing the ball out in transition when the Orange forces turnovers.

That style of play could tire players out more quickly. To me, it lends itself to relying on a deeper bench. In recent seasons, Boeheim often played six to seven guys.

In a recent interview with college basketball insider Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Autry said in part, “Depending on the situation, we can play nine or 10 guys.” I love hearing that, and I bet a lot of other ‘Cuse fans do as well.

Not too long ago, Syracuse basketball began its fall practices. I’ve gone on record in stating that I believe the team’s starting rotation in 2023-24, at least at the onset, will entail sophomore point guard Judah Mintz, sophomore guard J.J. Starling, sophomore small forward Chris Bell, junior forward Benny Williams, and junior center Naheem McLeod.

Thus, the Orange’s eight reserves are:
•Sophomore guard Chance Westry
•Sophomore guard/small forward Justin Taylor
•Sophomore guard/small forward Quadir Copeland
•Redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr.
•Sophomore forward Maliq Brown
•Junior center Mounir Hima
•Sophomore center Peter Carey
•Freshman center William Patterson

As you’ll see, the ‘Cuse 2023-24 roster includes no seniors and has a ton of underclassmen. The Orange is deep at every position group, although we’ll have to wait and see how the center spot fares after senior Jesse Edwards transferred to West Virginia.

Adrian Autry and his assistants appear to have many intriguing line-up combinations from which to choose in 2023-24. Some of the guards can suit up at small forward as well. If the ‘Cuse wants to go “small,” it could use possibly Brown or Williams at center here and there.

"Autry told Rothstein that this squad’s depth and experience are pivotal to success in 2023-24. “I think we probably have one of the most talented rosters that we’ve had in a while in terms of 1-10. Depending on the situation, we can play nine or 10 guys. I think our depth is a major factor and with what we went through the last couple of years — the guys here were a part of that. I think we’ve got a very motivated group and I think all of the guys that transferred in bring something. … You’ll see a very vibrant group, a very active group. I think the experience and our depth will be the difference for us this year.”"

The Syracuse basketball 2023-24 roster consists of three juniors, a redshirt sophomore, eight sophomores and a freshman. Yes, that’s a lot of underclassmen, but many of these guys have a year or two in the Orange system under their belts, or they have gained experience at other high-major programs before transferring to the ‘Cuse.

The team’s backcourt, on paper, looks excellent. The forwards are solid, and I think Williams is in for a big junior year. Replacing Edwards is tough, but McLeod and the reserves can be more than serviceable at center.

Syracuse basketball does have a new head coach, a sizable roster makeover, and a tough non-conference docket, although the Orange’s Atlantic Coast Conference calendar, to me, is manageable.

It will be interesting to see what rotations Autry & Co. utilize in 2023-24. But I’m glad to hear that Adrian Autry is likely to call on a deep bench.

Don’t sleep on Syracuse basketball, which has top 25 upside, experts say. dark. Next