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TNIAAM women’s basketball survey: Quentin Hillsman has overwhelming support from Syracuse fans

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Our latest survey shows you guys (and gals) really like Coach Q.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament - Syracuse vs Notre Dame Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

To generate some coverage ideas AND get a better read on what Syracuse Orange fans are thinking, we started running surveys here at TNIAAM. Last time out, we talked about SU men’s basketball. And now, we’re talking Orange women’s basketball.

We wound up receiving 94 responses from folks telling us what’s working for Coach Q’s squad, what isn’t and their outlook for the future (and related topics).

Thanks for your answers to those questions, and we’ll keep doing what we can to deliver the TNIAAM experience you’re hoping for.

Our next survey — men’s lacrosse — comes out on Wednesday too, by the way. So if you missed out on these last couple surveys, you’ll have at least one more chance to share your opinion on all matters Syracuse when that goes live.

Do you approve of the job Quentin Hillsman’s doing as head coach? (not just in terms of wins and losses)

Despite some NCAA Tournament flameouts here and there, Coach Q has rave reviews from this group, with an approval rating of nearly 96%. That’s significantly higher than the responses for both Dino Babers and Jim Boeheim, for whatever that’s worth.

I’d assume that the dissenting opinions probably come from the fact that SU’s never had more talent on campus than in the last few years, and seemingly has little to show for it. That’s not ALL on Hillsman, but it does invite some questions.

What is your outlook for Syracuse women’s basketball’s future?

Not only are most fans happy with the job Hillsman’s doing, but they’re also overwhelmingly optimistic about the future of Orange women’s basketball. Recent recruiting success should certainly help that quite a bit. I’m interested to hear more from the three people that said they were pessimistic about the future.

What do you expect from Syracuse women’s basketball’s 2020-21 season?

Some pretty high hopes for next year’s team, it would appear — and who could blame anyone for that, given who’s back and who joins the program come the fall? There are four of you who think this team’s EXPECTATION is a title come April 2021, and over 18% of you see this as a Final Four team. Another 25.5% are seeing Elite 8, while over 38% think the Orange are a Sweet 16 squad. Just 13.9% of you think SU either just makes the NCAAs or doesn’t make the field at all.

Who was the best player on the Syracuse women’s basketball team in 2019-20?

To little surprise, Kiara Lewis was seen as Syracuse’s top player by more than 50% of you. She did score nearly twice as many points as anyone else on the roster (17.6 per game). Another 28.7% of you picked Emily Engstler, which is also reasonable. Digna Strautmane and Gabrielle Cooper also received some love, as did a mysterious “other” player.

Who will be the best player during Syracuse women’s basketball’s 2020-21 season?

You (and Syracuse) clearly missed Tiana Mangakahia, since almost three quarters of you picked her as next year’s best player. Engstler (11.7%) was next up, followed by Lewis (8.5%). Top freshmen additions Kamilla Kardoso and Priscilla Williams also got a few nods apiece. If either are our best player in 2020-21, we’re probably in for a pretty special year.

Can Syracuse women’s basketball become a consistent Final Four contender?

This also speaks to the collective faith in Q. Based on results AND recruiting — I’d assume — over 72% of you see Syracuse as a consistent Final Four contender. Granted, I didn’t say when that occurs. Or even who’s coaching the program when that should happen. But there’s still a good deal of faith that at some point, they’ll be a Final Four contender. So that’s something to look forward to (potentially).

How many Syracuse women’s basketball games did you watch on TV or attend in-person last season?

Over 56% of you (respondents, anyway) saw somewhere between one and 11 SU women’s basketball games this past year — so many are at least paying attention to the less frustrating of Syracuse’s two basketball teams of late. Another 19.1% watched between 12 and 19 games, and 8.5% watched between 20 and 27 games. Just two respondents are basically season ticket holders. Unfortunately, 13.8% didn’t watch a single game, though.

Have you ever attended a Syracuse women’s basketball game?

While the team was watched last year, it seems a decent number of those viewers came on TV, vs. in-person. The survey shows that less than half of you have ever been to an Orange women’s game. Now, there are reasonable excuses in many cases — largest of all, not living close enough to campus. Certainly some live close and just haven’t been to a game, though (for one reason or another).

Name one thing you’d change about the Syracuse women’s basketball program if you could:

This was an open-ended question, though it does give some clues as to why people either aren’t watching or aren’t attending games. Common responses included game times (easier to watch), attendance, more publicity and not playing in the vast Carrier Dome. Others include shot selection (more 2s), recruiting (have you been paying attention?) and better defense.

Many of these were also pretty specific, and several put some blame on Q for what the program lacks. But people are paying attention.

If you’re local and don’t attend games, what could Syracuse women’s basketball do to get you do attend more?

This one was optional and more aimed at locals, but we still got a decent number of “N/A” responses. Most of the other responses focused on start times, community outreach, free kids admission (absolutely should be the case) and doubleheaders with the men’s team to make it easier to attend both.

I wonder if the last one would work well, to be honest. I know sitting through one game as an adult on their own is a lot. With kids in tow (probably), would it truly be easier to then sit through a second game that day? I don’t buy it.