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Syracuse women’s basketball: What to Watch for vs. Le Moyne

One exhibition game, and then it’s on to the 2022-2023 season.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Basketball Tipoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After months of waiting, it’s finally time to see the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team back in action.

By the numbers, this team will feature ten newcomers for ‘Cuse, a new (and promising) head coach, and better expectations after an underwhelming 2021-2022 season.

Heading into this season, there is a ton of potential for this team, but there’s also a lot that still needs to be figured out. Hopefully, this exhibition game will get some of those questions answered.

The Orange will take on the Le Moyne Dolphins tonight at 7:00 pm at the JMA Wireless Dome in the team’s only exhibition game. The game can be streamed on Cuse.com.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With all this in mind, let’s break down a couple of the biggest narratives to watch for heading into the Orange’s exhibition versus Le Moyne.

Question #1: What’s the chemistry looking like for the Fair-Hyman backcourt pairing?

With the acquisition of Dyaisha Fair, both she and returning guard Teisha Hyman will give the Orange some credible, capable offensive hubs that could hopefully generate shots for others while making sure to get their own looks.

Both players are coming off of successful 2021-2022 seasons. Last year, Fair finished 4th in the NCAA in points per game and led the Buffalo Bulls to a 25-9 record. Meanwhile, Hyman evolved into Syracuse’s best scorer last season, averaging 16.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game while getting honorable mention consideration for the All-ACC teams.

On paper, the Fair-Hyman backcourt could rank as one of the better guard duos in the conference. There’s also some potential for them to both be able to play off each other and generate points individually in staggered lineups. It’s an exciting duo with tons of upside, and tonight, we get to see our first test run.

Speaking of firsts...

Question #2: What will coach Legette-Jack prioritize in tonight’s rotation?

Ten players, including eight transfers the Orange acquired over the break, could make their debut against Le Moyne for Syracuse. There’s a lot to sort out: potential rotations, different lineup combinations and, most importantly, see which members of the team work together in certain situations.

Just four players remain from the team’s 2021-2022 campaign. Chemistry has been a big focal point off the court for Syracuse as the team prepares to begin its season. How that chemistry will translate to the on-the-court product remains to be seen.

Similar to coach Boeheim’s rotation for the men’s team, expect coach Felisha Legette-Jack to give out as much playing time as possible.

Question #3: Will the Orange show signs of improvement with defense and rebounding?

This point has been beaten like a dead horse, but if Syracuse is going to bounce back this season, the team has to improve on the defensive end. Defensively, the Orange were anything but competent last season. The effort wasn’t there, the team generally lacked physicality, and gave up way too many interior shots and second-chance points.

Over the break, Syracuse added several transfer players who give the Orange some more size down low and a higher defensive ceiling. Here’s to hoping those players can be ready on day one to contribute on that end of the floor.

Coach Legette-Jack stressed defense and toughness during her opening-day press conference. Expect the Orange to come out with a new, better mentality on defense.

Syracuse will play its first regular season game of the year at home against Stony Brook on Monday, November 7 at 3:30 pm.