Last year around this time the TNIAAM staff got together to discuss the five players Jim Boeheim would give the nod to at the beginning of the Syracuse Orange basketball season. This year we’re doing much of the same — with the current roster as it stands, who will be this year’s starting five?
Frank Howard, Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer, Taurean Thompson and Pascal Chukwu.
With a lack of upperclassman, the Orange are going to be relying a lot on both Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson to contribute on both sides of the ball. Frank Howard is the X-factor here, as if he comes in with a more aggressive skill set the Orange will be able to be a bit more dynamic on offense. Matthew Moyer is an interesting piece here as coach Jim Boeheim is going to need his versatility to cause problems for opponents on both ends of the floor. Pascal Chukwu didn't give Syracuse much last year, but if he's able to be the defensive presence Boeheim needs then the Orange may have a sneaky versatile starting five next winter.
Right now my guess for starting five is Howard and Battle at the guards, Moyer and Brissett at the forwards and Thompson at center. I think Chukwu's best suited to come off the bench right now and also Syracuse is going to need to have some shooters to spread the floor for Battle and Thompson. Washington and Sidibe will be part of the 8-man rotation that will shrink to 7.5 by ACC play.
Frank Howard, Tyus Battle, Matt Moyer, Taurean Thompson and Paschal Chukwu would be my best guess as next year’s starting five. Next year’s team intrigues me simply because they’re so young, and we’ll be seeing a lot of the future. Oshae Brissett will get a ton of run, and I think he has the potential to be a star here. Howard Washington will play a fair share, Bourama Sidibe could open some eyes & obviously the unknown in Marek Dolezaj. We know he’s talented, we know he’s versatile but we don’t know much more than that.
With all that said, Syracuse is still trying to add another point guard to the roster, and that could very well bump Frank from the starting lineup — but that’s all hypothetical right now. My sleepers for next year’s team are Oshae and Howard — I think both will contribute more than most expect. It’ll be interesting to see how Chukwu comes back after his torn retina, and the unknown of Matt Moyer. We know he’s a great kid, but how has his game evolved in the past year? Like I said, the team represents the future (for the most part). I don’t expect Taurean or Tyus to be back after this season, but there are a lot of pieces that will be here for at least a few years. There will be growing pains, but it’s all for the betterment of the program.
I’m going to go out on a limb and supplant Moyer with Brissett in my starting five and keep Tyus and Frank at guards, Taurean at the opposite forward and Chukwu anchoring the zone. You can pretty much lock in the guards, but I think Brissett is going to surprise with his athleticism and quickness, which will allow him to be a solid defender in the zone. I think all forwards have an opportunity to play, including Sidibe and Dolezaj but ultimately one will get cut from the rotation as either Thompson will slide down to the center to spell Chukwu or play more at the wing in place of one of the other forwards.
Some would argue that it doesn’t matter who starts, especially with Boeheim who has a history of yanking players early. Some will say it only matters who finishes the game, but what do you think? Who will the ‘Heimer elect to go with at the start of the season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.