The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season will of course be preceded by football in the coming weeks, but as the calendar turns to mid-August, it marks just ten weeks from the first hoops exhibition game.
On the back of last week’s news of Syracuse starting a new NIL collective under the 315 Foundation name, Jim Boeheim made rounds on local radio last week to disseminate more information on that topic.
After appearing on Orange Nation, Steve Infanti asked the head coach about a media personality’s projected starting lineup for Syracuse, which included three guards in Judah Mintz, Joe Girard and Symir Torrence. Boeheim wouldn’t give any hints as to who might start, but he dismissed the idea of thee guards starting and suggested Syracuse would only use that lineup if it were playing man-to-man defense.
So with that, it felt like the perfect opportunity for the TNIAAM team to opine on this year’s potential starting five. There’s no way you’ll disagree with any of us.
Kevin: PG - Judah Mintz, SG- Joe Girard, SF- Chris Bunch, PF- Benny Williams, C- Jesse Edwards
Girard and Edwards are the only two locks of this group so let me explain my reasons for the others. Mintz didn’t come to Syracuse to sit the bench and his ability to create offense is going to be needed on a team that lacks that aspect. Bunch has the reputation as a shooter and floor-spacer and can help defenses from collapsing in the paint. Williams’ rebounding is going to be needed and the hope is that he can find ways to contribute around the rim on offense. Symir Torrence seems like the top choice for 6th man and depending on the opponent the Orange could use a 3-guard line-up more often this season.
Meyer: PG - Torrence, SG- Girard, SF- Benny Williams, PF- John Bol Ajak, C-Jesse Edwards
I really liked what I saw when Torrence and Girard shared the backcourt together. Their skill sets complement each other well and I believe Torrence will make the game a lot easier for Girard as a pass-first PG while Girard, who I believe will have an ultimate green light this year, can focus more on playing his game rather than taking a backseat. As for Benny, I believe he’ll come back a more polished player and could even develop into an NBA prospect. At the 4, I had a tough time choosing between Bol and Maliq Brown but I decided to go with experience but I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown became a starter at the end of the season. At center, it’s not even a debate, as Jesse Edwards showed a lot of promise last season before his injury. I believe he can emerge as an NBA prospect this year as well.
Christian: Symir Torrence, Joe Girard, Chris Bunch, Benny Williams, Jesse Edwards
I mean, the three-guard lineup would be nice, but as Boeheim said, that would almost certainly require Syracuse to play man-to-man. If we’re being honest, I wouldn’t mind that too much, but unless proven otherwise, the zone is here to stay. Because of that, the Orange need to trot out two forwards, meaning a newcomer has to slot into one of the wing positions. Bunch seems like he has the highest upside offensively, but as usual how quickly he picks up the zone will be key. With this lineup, a lot rests on the shoulders of Girard. He’s got to show more activity at the top of the zone. More importantly, the hope is that this lineup moves Torrence to the one and Girard to the two, which should open up things offensively and take ball-handling pressure off Girard.
Szuba: Torrence, Girard, Williams, Bunch, Edwards
Girard and Edwards are clear starters, so let’s venture into the unknown.
Part of me thinks that Mintz will get the nod at the one, but another thinks Boeheim will give the first crack to Torrence as the senior veteran over the talented freshman. There is precedent here (Eric Devendorf, Michael Carter-Williams and Dion Waiters all came off the bench at one point). Plus, Torrence played well in spot minutes last season and he raised his level when given extended run in the ACC Tournament.
The forward rotation is the most interesting as Syracuse will have to rely on players who had little or no production last year, but give me Benny Williams after a year of improvement and Chris Bunch on the opposite wing as a shooter. I’ll say this: the Virginia freshmen might surprise this season and Justin Taylor could play above expectations. He has the drive, work-ethic, attitude and all the cliche intangibles that sound trite but actually prove to be important. One would have to think there will be more minutes available for him at the forward than shooting guard this season, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s playing a key role at Syracuse.
What about you? Who do you think starts for Syracuse this season? Feel free to engage with us in the comment section below.