Rebuilding Syracuse Offense Could Drag Team Down

David Lawrence

Sunday, July 20, 2014 1:29 PM GMT

The Syracuse Orange have always had scoring options aplenty but this year could be different. After a number of key losses due to graduation, the 2014 NCAA Tournament No. 3 seed could struggle through the coming season. They’re listed at 40/1 to win the NCAA Tournament and you’re best to steer clear of those odds for now.

So Who Needs To Be Replaced?
The Orange lost quite a bit of scoring off their team as Tyler Ennis, C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant are no longer with the team. Ennis was a first-round pick, Grant was a second-round pick while Fair went undrafted (signed with the Dallas Mavericks). That’s three of the Orange’s top four scorers from last year, including Fair, who led the team with 16.5 points per game. That trio combined to average 41.5 points per game or roughly 61% of the team’s offense. Ennis will be particularly tough to replace not only because he was the point guard who coordinated the offense but he also led the team in assists (5.5 per game) and steals (2.1) as well.

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Normally, the Orange simply pass the torch. They usually have some type of sixth man who plays pretty well during a run and is ready to step into a bigger role the following year. Guys like Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters and James Southerland developed one year then grew into bigger roles the next. However, the Orange don’t seem to have that so much this year.

 

So Who Steps Up?
Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? It’s not as clear this year as it has been in previous years. Trevor Cooney is the team’s top returning scorer as he finished third on the team at 12.1 points per game. However, Cooney won’t be mistaken for Carmelo Anthony. He’s no superstar. He’s an excellent shooter that thrived last year while having a lot of other talent around him. He’ll find less airspace to work with now that he’s the main focus. Besides Cooney, the next top returner is Rakeem Christmas, who chipped in with 5.8 points per game.

The cupboard is not bare in Syracuse; let’s make that clear. Michael Gbinije and Tyler Roberson are very talented and the hope is that those guys develop sooner rather than later. Roberson could have probably started for most teams last year but Fair and Grant obviously kept his role to a minimum. Gbinjie should be pretty good too. The challenge is that these guys, like most of Syracuse’s roster, are unproven – especially in the scoring department. That’s going to be a big challenge for Jim Boeheim’s squad in the ACC.

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How To Bet The News
It’s clearly a rebuilding year for Syracuse, which means you might want to look elsewhere if you’re picking an ACC champion or a March Madness winner. Boeheim usually has his team in the conversation but he’ll need to work miracles to get them there in the 2015 NCAA Basketball season. There are simply too many unknowns at the offensive end.

This team could drop significantly down the totem pole. If you’re strictly going by the odds, the Duke Blue Devils (7/1), North Carolina Tar Heels (15/1), Louisville Cardinals (30/1) and Virginia Cavaliers (35/1) are all expected to finish better than the Orange.