With the departure of Rakeem Christmas following this season and the looming scholarship reductions set to begin in two seasons, Syracuse Orange fans are reaching on to the 2015-2016 basketball season as the only thing they know for sure they can count on at this point.
On paper, the 2015-2016 season should be a fantastic one. The incoming recruits. DaJuan Coleman and Chris McCullough returning from injuries. And everyone else returning with another year under their belts. Unlike the future, next season holds no surprises.
Or does it?
After the loss to N.C. State, most of the returning Syracuse players told reporters that they were ready to roll and get some redemption next season in Orange. Tyler Roberson started by saying "I don't know where I fit in right now. I feel like next year is so far away" before talking about ways he can improve his game. It's unclear if Roberson is thinking about his future with the program or just how he can get more playing time in what's going to be a loaded roster.
Then there's Michael Gbinije, who sounded confident he'd be back...but not 100%.
Gbinije, who will graduate from SU this spring, characterized his return as "more than likely."
"I don't want to say a definite yeah, but I really like Syracuse, I like the program and I like the place itself. I probably will. Seriously. I will," he said with a smile. "We get a week of spring break and I'll just take some time to think about things, plan out the summer and take it from there. I graduate this year. I was planning to do what (Rakeem Christmas) did with graduate school next year. That's really my plan and goal right now."
"It's tough going out like this, honestly. It's tough for me to talk about next year. I know we're going to have a good team. I'm excited for it. This off-season is big. It's a big, big off-season. We're going to have new teammates. We've gotta get adjusted to them and at the same time, we each individually gotta get better. I gotta get better."
Certainly, NBA scouts aren't knocking down Gbinije's door. But that's when it's good to remember the NBA isn't the be-all and end-all for all of these guys. Gbinije could certainly get a job in Europe or elsewhere. If you've got a chance to make some money doing what you love and time is of the essence, it's got to be a consideration.
Gbinije also mentions that he graduates and will be attending graduate school next season. That means that, if he wants to, he could take advantage of the graduate transfer rule and play immediately elsewhere. I'm not sure why he'd do that, considering he's a near lock to start for a stacked team that'll have tons of potential and no post-season barriers, but, it's an option.
Or, you know, maybe Mike just wants to take a week to think about his life and the future. Nothing wrong with that.