2008 Syracuse Orange Basketball Preview
Last season, the Syracuse Orange (21-14 overall, 9-9 Big East) ended up in ninth-place in their conference and for the second straight year missed the NCAA Tournament, going to the NIT instead. In the NIT, the club went to the quarterfinals where Massachusetts beat them 81-77. This season, the Orange are looking much better than they have over the past three seasons.
In the frontcourt, Syracuse will have to replace Donte Green and his 17.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 1.6 BPG. There are a few candidates, including Kristof Ongenaet (19.2 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 51.5 FG%, 67.7 FT%) and Arinze Onuaku (30.6 MPG, 12.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 62.8 FG%, 44.5 FT%), who have the potential to make the frontcourt effective. Onuaku, a junior forward, was impressive last season, while Ongenaet, a JUCO transfer who started 15 games last year, proved to be a resilient, gutsy player. Square-bodied small forward Paul Harris (36.1 MPG, 14.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 46.9 FG%, 73.0 FT%), now a junior, showed marked improvement in 2007-2008.
Sophomore guard Johnny Flynn (35.5 MPG, 15.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.3 APG, 45.9 FG%, 77.5 FT%) was a major force last season. In Big East games, he averaged 39.17 MPG and shared the Big East Rookie of the Year award with Pittsburgh’s DuJuan Blair. On the opposite side, junior Eric Devendorf (34.2 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.9 APG, 46.6 FG%, 74.3 FT%) is back after a season-ending knee injury knocked him out of the line-up last season. He’s a solid competitor with a fine three-point shot (40.6 3-PT%). He’ll be a huge help.
Head coach Jim Boeheim has rebuilt the program and has this team
poised to move up the Big East ladder. The Orange has not won a
NCAA tourney game since 2004 when they went to the Sweet 16. In
what may be the toughest conference in the nation, this club will
do well enough to post a winning league record and get back to the
Big Dance. They may even win more than one tournament game.