The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program enters the summer with an opportunity for the coaches and players to begin the adopt Adrian Autry’s preferred style of play.
Autry has promised that the Orange will get back to a faster-tempo style of play with changing defenses. To accomplish this he’s gone into the transfer portal to find a group of long, athletic players to fill our the 23-24 roster.
There are certainly lots of questions facing this Syracuse team. If Judah Mintz stays in the NBA Draft, then the Orange will have lost their top three scorers from this year’s team. Will JJ Starling be able to handle the role of the go-to scorer? Does a different system unlock more consistency from Benny Williams, Chris Bell and Justin Taylor? Can a stronger defense help Syracuse score more in transition?
Honestly, that last one might be the easiest thing to believe. No matter what defense Autry implements, he’s going to field a starting line-up that features no one under 6’3”. When Syracuse goes with the 2-3 zone or uses pressure, the Orange will have 6’11”, 7’1” or 7’4” anchors to offer rim protection. Last year Mounir Hima and Naheem McLeod combined to average 8.8 blocks per 40 minutes and that duo isn’t the offensive threat Jesse Edwards was, but the paint presence might allow for more aggressive perimeter defending.
Out on the perimeter next year, the Orange will have four primary guards ranging in height from 6’2” (Kyle Cuffe, Jr.) to 6’6” (Chance Westry and Qadir Copeland). The four forwards are all listed at 6’7” and above, and when you put that all together that could create a greater challenge for opponents looking to get clean shots next season.
Instead of trying to simply out-score opponents as the Orange have unsuccessfully attempted the last two seasons, next year’s squad could use defense to ignite offense. Doing so could take some of the pressure off the unproven half-court offense and let Syracuse use their athleticism to get more shots at the basket.
It’s shaping up to be a challenging non-conference schedule so Autry and his team won’t get a lot of time to figure things out, so they need to make the most of the time between now and November.