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Syracuse men’s basketball: Adrian Autry’s most important task

Among the many things Autry has to do, this decision could have lasting implications beyond his first season.

North Carolina v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

As the Syracuse Orange embark on a new era with Adrian Autry at the helm, a plethora of challenges immediately face the new leader of the Orange. There’s recruiting issues, portal transfers in and out, and also offensive and defensive schemes that need identifying. However, all of those aren’t the most important issue that Autry needs to solve before his first game at the helm of the Orange. In reality, he needs to solve this problem before his first practice leading Syracuse.

And that’s with his staff.

Autry didn’t offer too much of a comment during his introductory press conference on the status of the current assistant coaches with the program. However, given that Autry, Gerry McNamara and Allen Griffin were spotted together on the recruiting trail this weekend, it seems logical to assume that the other two assistants on the staff are at the very least welcome to return to the Orange.

No matter what the case is with McNamara and Griffin, that still leaves an opening for a third assistant coach. And that opening is the most important task for Autry to solve for Syracuse. It may turn out to be more important than any recruit or transfer that he brings into the program, because a correct hire could set up the program for years.

And that hire needs to excel at coaching the forwards and centers.

Ever since Bernie Fine and Mike Hopkins left the Syracuse program, the development of Orange big men haven’t been exactly stellar. The only ones who developed and improved to have a significant impact on both sides of the floor are Jesse Edwards, Marek Dolezaj, Quincy Guerrier and Oshae Brissett. That’s not exactly a great track record to have four decent forwards over a seven-year span.

To be fair also, I’m not discounting the basketball acumen and coaching talent of Autry, McNamara or Griffin. However, all three coaches are natural guards. From an outsider perspective, it doesn’t seem like they have all the tools needed to develop the forwards and centers that Syracuse has in the past.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse Head Coach Introductory Press Conference Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For a program that has recently had rebounding issues, better forwards and centers should help alleviate some of those issues. However, Syracuse hasn’t got that support from the frontcourt in recent seasons. It’s been a glaring issue that has led to the recent sub-20 win seasons.

It’s been hard to get consistent production on both sides of the floor from the frontcourt. Syracuse has dealt with more offensive options, like Cole Swider and Andrew White, and more defensive options, such as Pascal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe. There haven’t been too many all-around options that the Orange have relied on in recent seasons from the forward position.

A proper forwards and centers coach could be the first step to successfully rebuild the Orange program. Autry has so many things on his plate as he steps up to the head coaching role for a legendary program. But sorting out his staff could have drastic implications in both directions depending on his hire.