ACC Burning Questions: Syracuse Orange

Posted by Matt Patton on October 26th, 2016

This team preview is part of the RTC ACC microsite’s preseason coverage.

Burning Question: How quickly will Andrew White and John Gillon slot into Jim Boeheim’s system?

Tyler Lydon will have help this year in Syracuse. (Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Tyler Lydon will have help this year in Syracuse. (Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Can you be a consensus Top 25 team as well as a conference sleeper? This question doesn’t pertain only to the Orange, but because of the deserving press of those two monolithic teams on Tobacco Road, Syracuse is flying under the radar this preseason. It’s not just the perpetual hype machine surrounding Duke and its bevy of one-and-dones or North Carolina following up on its heartbreaking ending. There are legitimate questions about this Syracuse team but you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of teams as talented as Jim Boeheim‘s group. The first question he needs to answer is how to replace the team’s best player and jack-of-all-trades, Michael Gbinije?

Graduate transfer Andrew White (Nebraska) should help replace Gbinije’s missing buckets. Between adding one of the Big Ten’s best offensive players and Tyler Lydon‘s expected sophomore leap, the Orange have some firepower. Lydon and White could both wind up as all-conference players by the end of the season. John Gillon, another graduate transfer, has excellent experience running the show while he was at Colorado State. If the pair picks up the 2-3 zone fairly quickly, the Orange could be very good this season. Probably the most impressive part of Syracuse’s roster is that we shouldn’t expect to see much of their three consensus four-star recruits. Tyus BattleMatthew Moyer and Taurean Thompson will get some minutes but they also will have a chance to learn the college game from the transfers and other Orange veterans.

One concern is that an eraser to anchor the zone is key to every great Boeheim team. That’s where Paschal Chukwu, a transfer from Providence, comes in. The 7’2″ redshirt sophomore is a great shot-blocker who has spent the last year learning how to play the zone. Don’t expect a polished all-ACC caliber player from Chukwu just yet, but he will likely be a critical part of Syracuse’s rotation. His presence inside also means that DaJuan Coleman’s tendency to get into foul trouble won’t spell the same doom on the boards as it did last season. Senior Tyler Roberson and his excellent offensive rebounding rate (14.8%) rounds out the frontcourt.

The last factor at play with Syracuse is its ACC schedule, as the Orange only play Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia one time apiece (with the Blue Devils and Cavaliers coming at home). The home-and-home with Louisville will be a challenge, but that’s a favorable draw for this particular team. Boeheim’s club is possibly the most experienced in the league thanks to two of the country’s best graduate transfers, so we should expect that the Carrier Dome will return to being one of the toughest places to play in the country this winter.

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