A Look Back ... and Ahead for Syracuse Basketball Fans: Disappointment Replaced by Hope

Apr 26, 2019

SY Hoops Fans have reason to look forward ... and back ... at Orange basketball action.
Credit cuse.com

Syracuse basketball might have ended the 2018-19 season with a quick exit from the NCAA tournament, but exciting times are ahead thanks to both new and returning players.  Among them will be Glens Falls guard Joe Girard, a 6’1” high-scorer who will add shooting.  Another shooting guard, Brycen Goodine from Rhode Island will also add scoring; he’s a member of ESPN’s top 100 recruits for the coming year.  The Orange will also expect to get some minutes and production out of 6’10” John Bol Ajak from Pennsylvania at center and 6’7” forward Quincy Guerrier from Canada at forward.  The most recent recruit, 6’11’ Center Jesse Edwards, just signed last week.  The native of the Netherlands adds up-front depth to the 2019-20 team.

Coach Boeheim will have the task of mixing their talents with returning players.  The team will deal with some uncertainty as seniors Tyus Battle, frank Howard and Paschal Chukwu will have to be replaced.  Fans will be intrigued by how much returnees Jalen Carey, Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim, Robert Braswell and Marek Dolozaj are on the floor, versus the new blood.  One of the Orange’s best players, Oshae Brissett is still a question mark.  More on all the veterans below. 

Orange recruiting continues with an offer to Minnesota High School forward/center Dain Dainja, who’s in ESPN’s top 100 prospects for 2020.  And insidetheloudhouse.com reports as many as 10 other top 100 players are on SU’s radar for 2020. 

SEASON ENDS TOO ABRUPTLY

Tyus Battle and the Syracuse Orange completed their final game of the season against Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament. For Battle and the Orange, the season came to an end sooner than anticipated.

One word cannot sum up the great achievements and the ultimate lows of the year. Syracuse went from starting the year #15 in the country, lost to a couple subpar teams in Old Dominion and Georgia Tech, was ranked as a higher seed than last year in the NCAA tournament, but was eliminated in the first round. Following the game against Baylor, head coach Jim Boeheim reflected on the season as a whole.

“It was a solid year. It just wasn't the year I think we would have liked to have had. I thought these kids, I thought everybody played well. I think with Buddy coming in, Elijah coming in their first years, Marek and Oshae are sophomores. But I think we didn't have the consistency from the beginning, missing Frank for a long time and then obviously at the end.”

Turns out, Syracuse did not have the season that fans were hoping they would. However, let’s take a look back and give thanks to the players who will not be returning for the Orange next year.

SYRACUSE SAYS GOODBYE TO KEY CONTRIBUTORS

Junior Tyus Battle has declared for the NBA draft

Junior Tyus Battle has declared for the NBA draft…again, but this time is different. In addition to declaring for the draft, Battle has also withdrawn from the University, terminating his time at Syracuse. This will prevent him from turning to the Orange for his senior season, despite having one more year of eligibility left.

Ever since his freshman year, Battle has had an impact at Syracuse. Whether it’s a buzzer beater against Clemson his freshman year or scoring 32 points in an overtime win against the #1 team in the country his junior year, Tyus Battle was Syracuse and Syracuse was Tyus Battle.

Battle finished the year with 17.2 points per game and making 43% of his field goals. With Battle out next year, the Orange will need a new man to take the reins. Some candidates to fill that position are Elijah Hughes, Jalen Carey, or Howard Washington, who redshirted this season after suffering a medical condition last season.

Despite who the player will be that steps up, they will have huge shoes to fill after the career and impact Tyus Battle had on this program, including a Sweet Sixteen run last year.

Another key player that will not be with the team next year is senior Frank Howard. Unfortunately, Howard did not have a pleasant end to his career. After failing a drug test, Howard was suspended during the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game the Orange lost 78-69.

Credit cuse.com

For the last two seasons, Howard has been the senior point guard for the Orange, and a player people often looked up to. Howard has experience playing in the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four his freshman year.

Frank Howard did not start the season due to a leg injury. However, with the Orange’s slow start, his presence was certainly missed. Howard ended the season with 8.9 points per game. Not the best season he has had, but he shined when he needed to. He scored 16 points in the win against Duke and scored 21 against UNC, when the rest of his team was struggling.

A LOOK TO THE FUTURE

Without Frank Howard next year, the Orange will need a new point guard. The most likely candidate for point guard will be Jalen Carey, who filled in for Howard when he was injured to start the season. However, Carey did not get the desired playing time he thought he would get throughout the year, which can put a strain on a player as the season progresses.

The most likely candidate for point guard will be Jalen Carey

“"In the beginning, it was tough," Carey said. "Just being the guy in high school and coming to where I’m not the focal point of the team. I feel like that would be tough for a lot of players coming in who were in my position. In the beginning, there were some things just had me thinking a lot. It was really just frustrating."

Syracuse will also be replacing 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu. Chukwu has always helped the Orange in the paint with rebounds and easy points via dunks and alley-oops. However, without the experienced big man down under, Syracuse will be looking for Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe to fill that hole, both of which played a little bit of center this season.

Oshae Brissett has also declared for the draft this season. However, after a slightly worse season than last, he is expected to return to the team. If no, then there will be another hole for the team to fill with a less experienced player.

Elijah Hughes was able to add more impactful numbers that people had originally predicted. In some games, Hughes made his presence known from beyond the arc and really helped spark the Orange offense at times.

Buddy Boeheim started off the season slow, but was also able to shoot from beyond the arc at an efficient 35%. With two shooters from beyond the arc coming in with another season of experience, the Orange could be a force to be reckoned with.

In addition to pressure from beyond the arc, Syracuse will have highly anticipated freshman Joe Girard III next year who has averaged 50 points per game in high school. He has yet to be tested at the collegiate level, but Girard has been putting on quite a show in high school.

If Brissett stays, predict the future lineup to look something like this: Jalen Carey as the point guard, Brissett, Hughes, Boeheim, and Dolezaj getting some playing time at center mixed in with Sidibe.

Boeheim has never had a losing season in his 43 years of coaching.

With a less experienced team next year, Jim Boeheim will be faced with a challenge. Boeheim has never had a losing season in his 43 years of coaching. Having said that, Syracuse should not be worried, until Jim Boeheim leaves, Syracuse is almost guaranteed a winning season and a chance at the Big Dance.