The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was lucky to have veteran players to rely on in Andrew White III and John Gillon last year. But due to their departures, this year's team is going to rely on their five freshmen to fill the box score in a multitude of ways.
The impact freshmen you'll see this year: Oshae Brissett, Bourama Sidibe, Howard Washington, Marek Dolezaj and (redshirt frosh) Matthew Moyer. They aren't going to be asked to lead the team in scoring, but if there was one thing we learned in Friday's win, it was that coach Jim Boeheim is asking a lot out of his young talent this year.
The Orange's most notable newcomer is Brissett, an athletic wing who proved he's capable of impacting a game in a number of ways. The 6'8" forward struggled shooting from the field at first, but he was able to help out on the defensive glass to makeup for his early issues.
Brissett finished with a double-double as he tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes of play. He started to find his stroke in the second half as two threes helped him propel his diverse offensive arsenal. The Orange are going to need a better shooting performance out of their prime recruit, but it was a solid opening outing for the versatile Brissett.
The most impressive outing came from Sidibe, even if the box score doesn't say so (the 6'10" forward finished with seven points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals). Sidibe subbed in for Paschal Chukwu with 12:43 remaining in the first half, and his stellar play made it impossible for Coach Boeheim to take him out of the game.
The Orange weren't known as a defensive team last year, but Sidibe alone has changed that image for this year's squad. Sidibe's ability to cover an incredible amount of space at his size makes him a dynamic talent for Syracuse to utilize. From a sweeping hook-shot to a chase-down block, Sidibe showed the Orange faithful that he's here to play more than role-player minutes.
The freshmen point guard struggled to find his groove against the Big Red as he finished scoreless in just 10 minutes of play. You could tell that Washington has a high basketball IQ, but getting used to the speed of the collegiate game is going to be what hurts him the most. That will improve with time, but an overall underwhelming game for Washington.
The European import looked good in his 23 minutes on the floor as he showed that he is going to be able to score in a number of different ways. He started off with a few tip-in finishes, but Dolezaj's range was also seen with a late game three to give him eight total points.
Dolezaj also showed that he isn't just going to be a scorer as he brought in six rebounds to go along with his diverse scoring night. Dolezaj has the length and craftiness to help this team win in a number of ways this year.
Though a year old than the rest of this group, Moyer’s still a freshman just now playing his first college minutes. Tasked with a lot in the early going, he looked tepid coming back from injury and Jim Boeheim gave him an earful for soft play on both ends. Though he’d finish with just four points, he also added 10 boards. Moyer’s second half showed a player that’s active on the defensive end (he also added two steals) and a work-in-progress on offense.
He’ll need to come along quickly on O given the minutes Boeheim is wiling to give him. But the initial glimpses of Moyer on defense (most notably in the second half) provide a great starting point for the Ohio product.