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TNIAAM Syracuse Orange Basketball Mailbag #1: Centers, Guards, Trevor Cooney and Brandon Triche

Welcome to the first edition of the Syracuse basketball mailbag! Over the course of the 2012-13 Syracuse Orange hoops season I will attempt to answer your questions about this year’s team, its opponents, or Syracuse basketball in general.

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You can get in on future mailbags by tweeting me @JeremyRyan44 or using the hashtag #NunesHoops.

Question #1, from Jason Ladd (@tubaladd): “Who will get the most minutes at center and why: Keita, Christmas, or Coleman?”

My gut reaction is Rakeem Christmas. He has stated his preference for the center position, and we know from past experience with Christmas, Fab Melo, and even Baye Keita that Jim Boeheim can be notoriously fickle with playing time for freshman big men. I realize that Christmas is more agile and athletic than DaJuan Coleman, but historically the best 2-3 zone rebounders are power forwards, not centers. I foresee Rakeem starting at the 5 and DaJuan the 4 for the Orange this season, with Rak sliding to the 4 when he and Baye play together. Of course Boeheim could opt to go small with C.J. Fair and James Southerland as his starting forwards, but something tells me Southerland would be better suited as a 6th man and scorer off the bench.

Question #2, from “Benny J” (@JohnsBenjamin): “What is the realistic best case for Trevor Cooney this season (barring injury to the starting backcourt)?”

I think Cooney will get all of the minutes he can handle as a backup to both Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche. He could even beat out MCW for a starting slot, but he would have to have a fantastic run of October practices, because I think Triche needs to concentrate on scoring and allow MCW to handle the point. Reports I’ve read say that Cooney is a gifted shooter (think Gerry McNamara or Preston Shumpert) with enough size and athleticism to man the top of the zone. I think he made the right decision redshirting last year, and it will pay off with 20 minutes and around 6 points per game this year.

Question #3, from “SMG” (@smgroves12): “With only 3 guards, who plays if there is an injury and/or foul trouble? Is lack of G depth a recruiting fail?”

I think “fail” is a bit harsh, but SU’s guards will get all of the playing time they want, and Triche’s minutes could approach Jonny Flynn’s sophomore year when he averaged more than 37 a game. I think Dion Waiters’ (and to a MUCH lesser extent, Mookie Jones’) early departures put the coaches in a bind. In the case of Waiters, it was tough to forecast early on that their 6th man would leave for the NBA, and you certainly don’t want to push him out the door. By the time he declared for the draft, all of the top flight high school senior guards were committed elsewhere.

My assumption is that a forward with perimeter skills like James Southerland or Jerami Grant would be drafted to play SG should there be a calamity in the backcourt. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Question #4, from John Hussey (@BookHussey): “Will Brandon Triche end up as Cuse’s all time winningest player? I think he needs 28 to pass Kris Jo.”

So you’re making me work in my first mailbag, huh? Fine. According to my math, with a big assist from this Mike Waters article last February, Kris Joseph finished his career having been a part of 119 SU wins, more than any player in program history. That includes legends from the late 80s and early 90s teams like Derrick Coleman, Stevie Thompson, and Sherman Douglas. Brandon Triche’s teams over the past three seasons have totaled 91 wins. So your homework is solid, John.

But what you’re REALLY asking me is do I think the Orange will win more than 27 games this year, right? I’d take the over on that. The only Big East teams that really concern me are Louisville and Notre Dame. The Georgetown and UConn games will be emotional, but SU has the better team in both matchups. A 30 win season isn’t out of the question for this team, assuming deep runs in both the Big East and NCAA tournaments.

Thanks to our first four TNIAAM readers who participated in our inaugural mailbag. Again, if you’d like to submit a question, you can tweet the #NunesHoops hashtag or email me directly at if you aren’t on Twitter.

Jeremy Ryan is a writer/editor for in Syracuse. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyRyan44.