In about three months, Syracuse Basketball will try and rebound from Jim Boeheim’s first losing season.
There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding this year’s roster. Seniors Joe Girard III and Jesse Edwards are entering their fourth season with the Orange and should be the foundation for success.
Symir Torrence is also a senior and will be entering his second season with the Orange after a strong finish to the season.
Sophomore Benny Williams is looking to breakout for the Orange after a disappointing freshmen season.
The Orange are bringing in the 14th best recruiting class in the country, according to SI All-American. Guard Judah Mintz out of Oak Hill Academy headlines the gargantuan six-man class. The Orange also brought in Duquesne transfer Mounir Hima.
There should be plenty of lineup combinations at Boeheim’s disposal with all the new players and the returning veterans. Let’s look at some different combinations in which Boeheim could use.
There’s been some chatter about Mintz having a high chance to start, but I wouldn’t be so sure. Boeheim likes to reward experience over rankings or perceived talent. A few examples: Brandon Triche over Dion Waiters in 2011-2012 and Girard III over Kadary Richmond in 2020-2021.
Besides, Torrence showed elite playmaking at the end of the season. In the last two games, Torrence averaged 8 points and 10 assists per game on 46% shooting from the field with an astounding 6.6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.
With Torrence at the point, Girard will be free to do what he does best: Score. With the Boeheim brothers and Cole Swider gone, Syracuse will need Giard to step up his scoring as the freshmen get acclimated to the college game.
Bunch gets the start at three with his long frame at 6-7 and good shooting stroke. Benny Williams in year two should break out into a good scorer, rebounder and defender with his athleticism on the back line of the 2-3 zone.
After playing with the Dutch national team, Edwards should look to expand his game offensively while trying to keep his elite efficiency. With Edwards and Willams on the back line of the zone, the Orange should be better defensively.
THE THREE GUARD LINEUP
This is a lineup fans could see Boeheim use often. Taylor could be one of the first players off the bench with his great size at 6-6. He could be used at the top or bottom of the zone.
In this combination, Torrence stays on point as the facilitator for some great looks for Girard and Taylor. Williams and Edwards provide good size along the back line.
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This lineup would be a fun one and would remind fans of last season: Lots of shooting with questions on the defensive end.
Mintz would come in and run the show as he has the reputation of being a solid shooter, which is better than Torrence has shown.
Girard, Taylor and Bunch could all make some outside shots while Edwards roams the paint. If Edwards could expand his range this would make the lineup even more deadly on the offensive end.
RETURN OF THE PRESS
After what might have been Boeheim’s least athletic team of the 21st century, fans should be treated to the thrills of the Boeheim press after a year off. This lineup is oozing with press potential, but does lack experience.
Quadir Copeland has great size at 6-6 and 203 pounds for the guard position. He and Taylor should be able to disrupt passing lanes with their size, length and athleticism.
Benny Williams and Maliq Brown would be disrupters as well. Brown is 6’8 and was known as a good athlete and rebounder in high school.
The center position could be utilized by Hima for a few reasons. First, it would allow Edwards to stay out of foul trouble and get some rest as the center is usually the last line of defense. Second, Hima has a massive 7’7 wingspan which would be great on the press. He averaged a block per game in 10 minutes played for Duquesne last year.
The problem with this lineup is that there is not much experience. Boeheim would likely want a veteran like Torrence in the backcourt.
The last combination has a simple explanation: Learning the zone can be hard. There is the potential that Boeheim turns to Ajak at times this year as the freshmen get acclimated. This will be Ajak’s fourth year in the program and has been complimented by Boeheim in the past for his defensive ability.
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