As the Syracuse Orange Basketball season approaches, it's good to get a refresher on some of the players we will see out there this year. The Syracuse forwards are consistently asked to play a major role in Boeheim's system. Not only are many of them asked to produce on the offensive side of the ball, but they are also instrumental in playing the zone. They are asked to rebound, challenge shots on the perimeter and down low, and also get in passing lanes. This years group features some experienced players and some young talent. Malachi Richardson, Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson, and Michael Gbinije will all see some time at forward this year. We explore the forwards, and what can be expected out of them.
The McDonald's All-American will see some time at small forward this year. Richardson was the Orange's top recruit in the class of 2015, and is a player that many believe will be an impact player from day one. Richardson comes in with the reputation of being a marksman from deep, and he is also a big time athlete. He needs to improve his rebounding and defense if he wants to see big-time minutes at the position. Boeheim has shown before that if you can't play the zone, you won't play. Richardson's playing time is likely to depend on his defensive ability. Richardson can also handle the ball a little bit and can score off the dribble. With the announcement of Michael Gbinije moving from small forward to point guard, Richardson has a chance to start for the Orange at the small forward. Somebody had taken notice of Richardson's work ethic:
Tyler Lydon is the other freshman forward. Lydon has Syracuse fans excited about all that he can bring to the table. Much like Richardson, he comes in with the reputation of being a 3-point shooter. Lydon brings other things to the table too, his exceptional length makes him an ideal candidate for the zone. He is an athletic slashing forward who can get to the rim and finish. Lydon played in arguably the best league in high school basketball, playing at a the New Hampton in New England. Lydon was also a member of the 2014 FIBA U18 USA team that won the gold medal. Lydon will need to put an emphasis on his rebounding, but his length and athleticism should allow him to play well in the zone. Expect Lydon to come off the bench to provide a spark for the orange in the 2015-2016 campaign.
Roberson is a silent player that does little things well for the Orange. He had some monster games last season and is sure to be a key contributor this season. While Roberson didn't put up many big time scoring games last season, he did put up some big time rebounding numbers. Roberson had five games with 12+ rebounds and also had two games with 17+ rebounds. He averaged 8.3ppg and 7.3rpg. Roberson is sure to have a big time year for the Orange. He is the obvious choice for the starting power forward. Roberson is an athletic freak who can jump out of the gym and runs the floor extremely well for someone his size. During his Syracuse career, he has had problems learning the zone and staying on the floor. Roberson has struggled to consistently knock down the mid-range jumper over his Syracuse career, but if he can develop one he could become a pretty special player. Roberson can finish anything around the rim, on the other side of the ball, Roberson can protect the rim. Roberson needs to have a big year if the Orange want to make some noise in the ACC this season.
Silent G is arguably the most important player on this years team. Though he was recently named the starting point guard, he could still see some time at small forward. Gbinije was the starter last season, and thrived in the role. Gbinije was the Orange's do-it-all man. He was the teams top defender, while also putting up 12.7ppg and 5rpg. Gbinije will likely see time at small forward when he and Kaleb Joseph are on the floor together. However, it is likely that Joseph will give Gbinije a breather, so his time at the small forward will likely be limited. When he does play there, Gbinije adds rebounding and the ability to challenge shots at the small forward position. Expect to see Gbinije at the point for most of the season.
I expect that Richardson and Roberson will be the starters at the small forward and power forward respectively. Lydon will come off the bench and see some action throughout the season. I really don't envision seeing Gbinije at the small forward all that much unless Kaleb
Bloodshooter Joseph improves at the point.