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2012/13 Starters and Line-Ups

Its raining, I'm bored and Syracuse sports news seems rather slow today. Reading articles about Dion Waiters had me thinking about next years starters and potential line-ups.

We stand to lose 2 players to graduation next year, point guard Scoop Jardine and small forward Kris Joseph. You will both sorely be missed. As far as early entrants to the NBA draft I think Dion Waiters is the only real threat. The question remains, will he leave this year to be a first round pick (I see him going in the latter half of the first) or next year to be a lottery pick? I don't think Fab is a threat to leave, unless he puts on a show through conference play. Even then he still needs another year of development.

As of right now we also stand to add two players. Dajuan Coleman, Syracuse's native son, will be joining us next year along with Jerami Grant, a top 50 recruit. We can also welcome back Trevor Cooney after his redshirt year. I'm not sure if there are any other recruits with high interest or what our scholarship situation looks like but for all intents and purposes lets leave these 3 as contributing newcomers.

This leaves us with 2 scenarios coming into the 2012-2013 season. An Orange team with Dion Waiters and a Dionless Orange Squad. Both good, one is clearly better.

Lets start with the roster (starters in bold) assuming Dion stays

Guards: Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams, Trevor Cooney

Forwards: Rakeem Christmas, CJ Fair, James Southerland, Jerami Grant

Dajuan Coleman (I could realistically see him playing both the PF and C positions)

Center: Fab Melo, Baye Keita

My first inclination in picking starters for this team was to ask "Who's our PG and SG?" and thats where I came to this conclusion. Both Dion and Brandon, straddle the fence as far as their true position, they are both combo guards. And granted I love the Brandon/Dion back court this season, I'm not sure if its a viable starting line-up, because it seems more effective situationally. If JAB plans to start a true point guard, it would have to be MCW, but he certainly won't get the start over 3-year starter Brandon Triche, which leaves us with the real issue: I don't see Dion staying if he's not a starter next year. I'm also not sure how comfortable JAB would be starting two combo guards. Does Triche go back to playing point like his freshmen year, undoing two years of playing SG opposite of Scoop? Of course Dion could just bolt and the issue is solved. Without Dion, MCW and Triche become the clear cut starters at guard.

Onto the forwards, this seemed pretty cut and dry. With a year under his belt Rakeem Christmas will slowly start to become a force for the Orange. For Rak, to be a real starter I feel he needs to do a few things. A couple things all freshmen need to do, get in D1 basketball shape and learn the college game at your position (in this case the zone forward position), this is essentially what Fab had to do in the offseason. I think Christmas also needs to show a bit of passion and aggressiveness, there is no doubt last year that Fab was passionate, but I'm failing to see that edge in Christmas, so if he can find that he'll be just fine.

Honestly I can't wait to see what CJ Fair continues to add to his game. I know I'm playing the announcer bingo card, but with another year to develop his outside jumper and being the starting small forward for the Orange, I'm expecting a break-out year, or atleast a steady increase in production, like we have already seen from CJ. Its great to have a player with a high basketball IQ who has the athletic gifts and mindset to get it done. I can wait for 2 more years of CJ.

Starting center...easy. Fab Melo will continue to learn the game and become a force for one more year in the Big East. He'll be gone after his junior campaign. Like they always say, "You can't teach height." It's going to be fun having the most dominate big man in the country for a year though.

Pretty good starting line-up, obviously a lot better with Dion, but lets head over to that bench. Its oh so deep again! (TWSS)

If Dion is starting that leaves MCW and Trevor Cooney coming off the bench for the guards, if Dion leaves, MCW moves into the starting role, leaving only Trevor Cooney to spell the guards. I feel like Dion is essential to our guard depth next year. MCW is going to be a very good player. He has already bought into the defense and will slowly start to find his range. I'm excited that his arms will be atop our zone for a few more years. It will be fun to have our token lights-out white guy suited up for the Orange again. Trevor Cooney is next in line coming after the likes of Marius Janulis, G-Mac, and Andy Rautins (Did you know his Dad played for Syracuse?), and he's learning from the best of them. As long as Trevor is soaking in every ounce of knowledge coming from Coach Gerry's mouth, he'll be a contributor.

Forwards coming off the bench include James Southerland and Jerami Grant. I'll be the first to tell you I had little faith in Southy coming off the bench this year, his silky stroke did not overcome his inability to rebound and play defense last year. He has improved greatly in all departments and I'm looking forward to more steady improvement and highlight reel dunks next year. Jerami Grant seems like another long rangy intelligent recruit the Orange have been able to snag in years past (I'm thinking both Joseph and Fair). If he takes plays out of Fair and Joseph's books and goes into his freshmen year willing to provide a spark and do the dirty work, he'll be all right, but he will be the last forward off the bench I believe.

This brings me to my next enigma, DaJuan Coleman, not so much of an enigma but where can we put this large body to create the most havoc on the court. He's a large body in the mold of Arinze Onuaku, but will possess a great deal more basketball skill as a freshmen. At 6'10" he has the height to play center but seems skilled and athletic enough to play power forward as well. But at 270 lbs, Dajuan would take up a lot of real estate in the middle of that zone spelling Fab. It will be interesting to see what JAB does with Coleman because other than Christmas we lack a true power forward as CJ Fair will be playing more of a true small forward role next year without Joesph. That is unless....

(And here's where I make my most preposterous or possibly brilliant observation to date.)

Instead of creating a log jam at center with Fab, Coleman and Keita....wait for it....wait for it....Jim Boeheim makes the decision to move Baye Keita to power forward in the off season a la Hakim Warrick. Keita is long, rangy, athletic, and I believe smart enough to learn the position, it would also get him out of the middle of the zone where he has often been over powered this season by bigger centers and forwards. The big man rotation becomes very interesting at this point. We have 4 players who can play in the middle of the zone, and only one of them is incapable of stepping out to the wing position (Fab), the three other big men could either play the wing and middle positions in the zone.

A very deep bench indeed. Our only real lack of depth would exist at the guard spot if Dion decides to leave, but we are essentially playing with three guards during tough games this year, so maybe not a huge problem. We could also pick up another guard in recruiting with a late commitment. The forward and centers positions seem stocked with plenty of firepower. Im excited either way. So here's an ideal recap in my eyes:

(Starters in bold, bench in order off the bench)

Guards: Brandon Triche, Dion Waiter, Michael Carter-Williams, Trevor Cooney

Small Forwards: CJ Fair, James Southerland, Jerami Grant

Power Forwards: Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita

Centers: Fab Melo, DaJuan Coleman

So thats my look at the 2012-2013 Syracuse Basketball team. I know its a long ways away and we are in the midst of a great season, but I was bored. We've got the #1 team in the land right now and by the looks of next year the Syracuse Orange will be a powerhouse for years to come. Watch out ACC, when we are arrive we won't be greeting you with a Sunkist it will be Orange Crush!

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