If you haven’t already, head over to Syracuse.com and check out Donna Ditota’s latest work as she recently caught up with Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim. In that update, Boeheim spoke of his son, Buddy, who won’t be redshirting this season, (your favorite player) Darius Bazley and more.
As the 2018-19 Syracuse basketball season draws near, this year’s roster figures to be replete with guards and formidable wings. As such, expectations are high but perhaps what’s most interesting is the potential depth with this team.
Boeheim has shown a predilection for a shorter rotation in the past, usually playing only seven or eight guys. To be fair, when Boeheim has had depth like he did in 2011-12, he’s open to playing nine or even 10 players. That sounds like a distinct possibility this season as he said that he’ll play at least nine.
“You’re going to play seven or eight, but the ninth guy can get in there and play a little bit,” He told Donna. “The tenth could in some situations play, too.”
It would stand to reason that Syracuse would roll out the same starting five it had in the NCAA Tournament, giving the nod to Frank Howard, Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, Marek Dolezaj and Paschal Chukwu. To speculate, what seems likely is that Jalen Carey, Elijah Hughes and Bourama Sidibe would round out the rotation, with Buddy as the ninth man, but Howard Washington is in the mix, too.
Switching gears, controlling the game has always been a Syracuse staple. It’s almost always easier to influence the game by slowing it down than it is to try to speed it up. Last year, Syracuse was able to dictate tempo by playing a slow-as-molasses-in-January pace on both the offensive and defensive end. As Donna points out, the Orange ranked 345 in the country in adjusted tempo last season (Ken Pom), but with more bodies available this year, perhaps Syracuse gets out on the break more frequently?
“We need to push the ball, try to be better on offense,” Boeheim said. “We need to shoot better on offense, shoot better percentages.”
With that in mind, perhaps Boeheim does deepen his rotation and elects to get out on the break. Last year the Orange had to pick its spots and be judicious about running. With such limited depth and no other guards in rotation behind Frank and Tyus, Syracuse needed to shorten the game to be competitive.
That won’t be a problem this season. Jim now has the problem of luxury at his disposal, deciding who to play and how many minutes. Syracuse hasn’t played at a top-100 tempo (according to KenPom) since 2015, when they finished 100th. The last time SU finished in the top 50 was back in 2009, when they were 29th overall.
Dollars to donuts Boeheim will trim his rotation at the start of ACC play, but to what extent we can’t say for certain just yet. It likely won’t resemble last year’s five-man group, but trimming the list to seven or eight (giving more minutes to the main players off the bench than we saw in 2017-18) would appear fairly likely.
How deep do you see this rotation going in conference play?