While the 2018-2019 Syracuse Orange basketball season is still months away, the TNIAAM staff gathered ‘round to talk about what we’re looking forward to most. Whether Tyus Battle returns or not Syracuse won’t have a great deal of roster turnover while simultaneously bringing in some reinforcements. There’s plenty to look forward to considering the experience, talent and depth for what figures to be a top 25 team nationally, so let’s dive in.
Next season I’m excited to watch the growth of the returning players. This season was very up and down but we saw a team willing to compete every night. The experience and confidence they gained during the NCAA Tournament should provide a great foundation and it will be fun to see where this team can go in 2018-19.
With Tyus Battle likely to not suit up for the Orange next winter, coach Jim Boeheim will turn to a player many of us know of, but not much about in Elijah Hughes. Hughes transferred last year and had to sit out the season due to the peculiar NCAA rules, but with a hole at the shooting guard position, Hughes will have a shot to show what he is made of. The Orange will need some scoring alongside Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett, and Hughes’ ability to score in bunches is just what coach Boeheim needs. It may take a little time to get accustomed to playing at game speed, but the Syracuse faithful should be excited to learn about what the Eastern Carolina University transfer can bring to this team.
I’m most interested to see how this 2018-2019 squad handles expectations and winning. These guys have all proven that they can compete at a high level with grit, toughness and togetherness, but now people will expect Syracuse to win. How the guys handle that will be an interesting challenge, but if last season was a litmus test of how to handle adversity the team should be fine.
I’ll side with Kevin and say that I’m also interested to see how the returning guys develop. Frank should be steady at point as he’s ready made to lead next season’s squad. I can’t wait to see what Marek Dolezaj does this offseason, hopefully adding to his frame and range to his jumper. Oshae should lead the team in scoring if Tyus leaves, so it’ll be fun to see if he can tighten his handle, finish strong around the rim and knock down shots on a consistent basis. The center position intrigues me if only for thinking Paschal can get his timing down on the offensive end and if Bourama can stay healthy he should provide nice relief on both ends of the floor.
I’m also eager to see how the guard situation plays out, but have a funny feeling it will be a three man rotation of Frank, Elijah Hughes and Jalen Carey.
Everyone’s already checked a lot of boxes above, but to me the most fun one for the Orange’s postseason chances is watching Oshae Brissett potentially blow up. If he can work on finishing at the rim a bit more consistently, and add a few percentage points to his three-point rate, it’s easy to see last year’s 14.9 points per game jump up to something in the 20-point range. While Syracuse has spent a lot of time being tormented by physical, athletic forwards in recent years, it’ll be nice to turn the tables a bit.
All of this definitely means he’s headed to the NBA, which is fine. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy him contending for All-ACC honors and hopefully putting SU in contention to surpass this season’s result.
You know the deal. Now it’s your turn, what are you looking forward to about next basketball season? Drop a comment or two below.