Jim Boeheim said yesterday that "tremendous changes" are coming for Syracuse Orange basketball. He didn't say that with any clear idea of what those changes would be, but it stands to reason that a team losing Rakeem Christmas, gaining a blue chip recruiting class and possibly losing a role player or two to transfers is going through exactly that.
It got us thinking about a few topics for what's left in the 2014-2015 season and as we look (far) ahead to the 2015-2016 season. Here's what we came up with...
If you had to put money on one guy to transfer, it would be....
John Cassillo: Probably Buss. Don't want anyone to go, but if this staff is dead-set on bringing Thomas Bryant aboard, someone needs to leave. And based on the vitriol Boeheim's tossed at various players this year, I'd say Patterson's gotten the most grief (with Kaleb Joseph second). He won't be "pushed out" necessarily, but don't be surprised to see him just announce he's headed to "RANDOM POWER SCHOOL X" one day, with an assist from SU.
Brandon Ross: Chino Obokoh. With Dajuan Coleman set to come back next season with two years of eligibility left and given the minutes he's had this year, it has been made clear that Jimmy B has no future plans for him. While Ron Patterson is also considered here, the amount of minutes he still gets shows that Boeheim still has some faith in him.
Steve Haller: Ron Patterson. As much as I'd like to see it, he's got a bunch of people coming in (Richardson, Howard) at his position, putting him deep on the bench. Though he may be content with the bench, who knows.
Dan Lyons: I hate doing this...sigh. Ron Patterson makes the most sense, as he seems to have more limited upside than B.J. Johnson, and Chino Obokoh is friends with Thomas Bryant. If landing Bryant is the goal (it is), it doesn't make sense for him to leave.
Jared Smith: B.J. Johnson seems like the No. 1 guy to go because a lot of recruits, with the same skill set as him, are coming in and unless he is fantastic in offseason workouts he's going to find himself on the short end of the PT minutes. Ron Patterson could transfer, but I think he's staying around. With Kaleb Joseph's struggles and no real point guard coming in I think he will be needed for depth at PG.
Sean Keeley: I feel like Buss Patterson is destined to end up elsewhere. I hope he stays but I can absolutely see him walking into Boeheim's office for The Talk followed by a very cordial announcement that he's headed to Indiana State or something else closer to home.
Lisa Nelson: Unfortunately, Ron Patterson. I really enjoy him, but I think there are too many guys coming into/already in his position to give him the minutes he's hoping for.
Michael Burke: Ron Patterson, which is kind of upsetting. He's an easy guy to like. He's fun and he seems like he's a really good teammate. But it feels like he's the odd man out.
Claudia Ceva: Ron Patterson seems like the safe choice, as far as transfers go. I would like to see him stay and turn things around, but I just don't think it's going to happen that way, unfortunately.
Rakeem Christmas will finish where in ACC POY voting?
JC: In my ballot? First (I did vote for him for the country's most outstanding player, after all). But removing homerism, I wouldn't be shocked to see it go to Notre Dame's Jerian Grant, who'd be followed by Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Christmas in the voting.
BR: Rak will finish second in the voting behind Okafor. His season has been to good to keep him out of the top three and with Justin Anderson's injury, the door is wide open for Rakeem to finish second. SH: Second behind Okafor. I don't see him winning it, though he definitely has made his case.
DL: In the top five somewhere. I think Jahlil Okafor is pretty much a lock, and Jerian Grant will probably finish above Christmas. I think third would be very fair for him, although I'm sure we'll see some votes for Montrezl Harrell and maybe even Olivier Hanlan, who came on strong late in the year despite Boston College's struggles.
JS: I think third. Jahlil Okafor will be the top vote getter and will take big-man votes away from Rak, while Jerian Grant will snagged the second slot.
SK: He deserves to be No. 2 in the vote but I have a feeling we could see him lower due to some kind of weird "Syracuse is banned so we shouldn't consider them" result. I feel like we're going to see a very disappointing vote for him, even if he's still top five.
LN: Top 5, for sure, but whether he's second, third, or fourth depends on how a couple other guys do in the ACC Tourney. He may be passed over by a borderline #3 who has a standout performance.
MB: Christmas SHOULD finish second in the voting, behind Jahlil Okafor. But my guess is that he finished third, behind both Okafor and Jerian Grant.
CC: I think it will be very close between the number 1 and 2 spots, with Jahlil Okafor just pulling ahead because he's very, very good and the fact that he plays for Duke who is Tournament bound (wish things like that didn't play a factor, but it probably does). Can't forget the play of Jerian Grant, either. Tough top 3 to choose from.
Syracuse's starting five in November is...
JC: Joseph, Cooney, Gbinije, Roberson, Coleman (until McCullough gets back, then Joseph, Gbinije, Roberson, McCullough, Coleman)
BR: PG: Kaleb Joseph, SG: Trevor Cooney, SF: Michael Gbinije, PF: Chris McCullough (Insert Tyler Roberson if he doesn't recover in time to start the year) C: Dajuan Coleman
SH: I could see a point forward lineup trotting out, with Gbinije, Cooney, Roberson, McCullough and Coleman. You want length in the zone and athleticism? You've got it. More likely is the same starting lineup as this year, with Joseph at the point and Coleman slotting in for Christmas.
DL: PG: Kaleb Joseph, SG: Trevor Cooney, SF: Michael Gbinije, PF: Chris McCullough, C: Dajuan Coleman
JS: PG: Kaleb Joseph; SG: Trevor Cooney; SF: Michael Gibije; PF: Chris McCullough and C: Dajuan Coleman; and on the bench we have Tyler Roberson, Ron Patterson, B.J. Johnson and Malachi Richardson. #LOADED
SK: I don't know if McCullough will be ready to go so let's assume he's not. I'll go with Kaleb Joseph (PG), Trevor Cooney (SG), Michael Gbinije (G/F), Tyler Roberson (F) and DaJuan Coleman (C) with McCullough taking Roberson's spot when he's ready. I'm giddy.
LN: Starting lineup will be Joseph, Cooney, Gbinije, McCullough, Coleman.
MB: (PG) Kaleb Joseph, (SG) Trevor Cooney, (SF) Trevor Cooney, (PF) Tyler Roberson, (C) DaJuan Coleman. (That's assuming Chris McCullough isn't ready before December 1. If he is, then obviously he'll start in front of Roberson.
CC: Next year's lineup will be: Joseph, Gbinije, Cooney, McCullough (Roberson if McCullough isn't ready), and Coleman.
Will Rakeem Christmas be drafted? Where would you like to see him end up?
JC: Yes, he'll definitely be drafted by a team looking for a solid big man off the bench. I think he's good enough to go in the late-first or early-second, but that may be a dream. Either way, Christmas suiting up for my New York Knickerbockers would be fantastic (and probably unlikely).
BR: I think his best possible fit would be with the Knicks, but I don;t see him being taken that high. Since 'Cuse players tend to be placed higher than they go in mock drafts as of late, I'll say he goes somewhere in the 40s.
SH: I have absolutely no idea where he'll end up, but he's done enough to get at least a second round look for a big man that's athletic.
DL: Yes, early second round. Personally, I'd love for my Brooklyn Nets to grab him, because it is a hard bunch to root for right now for various reasons, and having one of my favorite recent Orangemen on the team would help improve that situation.
JS: Yeah, I think somebody will grab him. For a big guy he is very athletic, can play defense and does have some inside moves. Somebody will want that kinda guy on his bench or as nice minutes-eater.
SK: Rak has mid-second round written all over him. Syracuse big men don't get a lot of love in the draft but I'd like to think some NBA teams will look at him and see potential. I'd love to see him end up in the Northeast, but probably not with his hometown Sixers. They'll just trade him away in a year anyway.
LN: Where he lands depends on too much stuff that I don't understand because I don't follow the NBA well enough. However, he's a solid second rounder. His size, improvement, and free throw ability gets him a few good looks.
MB: I definitely think he'll get drafted, maybe even late in the first round. As a Knicks fan, I'd love to see him end up in New York.
CC: I don't know exactly where he'll land, just that it will most likely be after the first round. I think he'll probably be selected somewhere in the second round.
If this team were eligible, would we still be on the bubble or would we dreaming of NIT attendance records by now?
JC: At this point, we'd be NIT-bound. Sure the bubble sucks this year, but our resume still falls around the other "4 teams out" at this point. We've done the whole NIT one-seed thing before. It's hard for the fan base and the players to get up for it -- so this may be a better solution.
BR: The bubble dream died when we lost to Pitt again.
SH: Currently: NIT. It would take a win Saturday and at least two-three in the hypothetical ACC Tourney to put us over the hump.
DL: I think we'd be somewhere on the outside looking in after back-to-back lopsided losses. A win over N.C. State and a win or two in the ACC Tournament would probably get Syracuse into the field.
JS: Well, thanks to Iowa's late-season charge Syracuse now has three top-50 RPI wins, one coming on the road, and has ZERO bad losses (anything out of the top-100). That kinda resume will at least get you on the bubble. So, if Syracuse was eligible they'd probably need to beat N.C. State on the road, which would be another top-50 victory, and avoid a first round loss in the ACC Tournament. Snagging another top 50 win in the ACC Tournament would, of course, help too, oh, and cheer for some other bubble teams to get upset as well. All-in-all, all NCAA hopes aren't dashed. It would have made for an exciting last week of the season.
SK: I'd say we'd be firmly on the outside looking in at this point. Louisivlle and Notre Dame wins aside, I think they're too little too late, especially when you factor in how easily Duke and Virginia handled us. Short of a run to the ACC Title Game, I think we would have been secure in the knowledge of an NIT bid at this point.
LN: We'd be NIT-bound right now, but Rak and/or Silent G would destroy the ACC Tournament, effectively GMac'ing us into the NCAAs by winning the whole damn thing.
MB: We'd be NIT bound, unfortunately.
CC: We'd be headed to the NIT with this record, despite two wins over highly-ranked teams. There are just too many losses to teams that we could've won against.