2009-2010 Syracuse Orange Basketball Preview
After two straight seasons playing in the NIT tourney, the Syracuse Orange made it back to March Madness last year. The made it to the Sweet 16 where they lost to Oklahoma 84- 71. Head coach Jim Boeheim, who certainly knows basketball, has acknowledged the loss of three major players could compromise his team’s chances of winning. Still, the Orange seem to have some very fine talent that can get them back to the Big Dance for a second straight season.
For Syracuse , it was about offense last season. The club placed first in scoring offense, averaging 80.2 PPG and field goal percentage, hitting 49% of their shots. The club’s three-point shooting was fairly good too as they sank 35% of their missiles from downtown. But the Orange proved to be deficient in defensive scoring, allowing 71.7 PPG (13th). The were also 13th in free throws, hitting just 64% from the charity stripe.
The frontcourt looks very good as some of the best and most experienced forwards in the conference get the start for the Orange. Forward/center Arinze Onuaku (10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 0.6 APG) put up good numbers and proved to have an accurate shooter despite the fact that he had to battle tendonitis last year. Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, a junior, is a welcomed addition. A fine athlete, he has a high vertical jump and a three-point shot that’s sublime. In the final third of last season, forward Rick Jackson (8.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.9 APG) came to the forefront. Look for a breakout season from him.
The backcourt will find it tough going replacing Jonny Flynn and his 17.4 PPG, 6.7 APG and 1.4 SPG. Along with the stats, Flynn was a true competitor and team leader. Boeheim believes that freshman Brandon Triche, a true Syracuse point guard, could be the answer. Triche, a pure point man, can ably get the ball to the right place at the right time. Three-point shooter Andy Rautins (10.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.0 APG) is back and ready to strut his razor-like shot once again. There’s backcourt depth on the bench.
Boeheim may have to deal with important loses, but he’s smart and experienced enough to know how to compensate for them. There will be some falloff from last year, but the Orange will still do well. It’s expected that they will finish around sixth and once again be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. How deep will they go? They’ll be out by the first or second round and then that’s it.