My 2022-3 SU Basketball Preview - The Situation | Syracusefan.com

My 2022-3 SU Basketball Preview - The Situation

SWC75

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SU’s true nadir in basketball came in the 1961-62 season, when they opened 0-22, setting a national record with a 27 game losing streak, before rallying to win the last two games of the season. Then four things happened that totally turned around the program. Manley Field House opened as our original football indoor practice facility and the school decided they could more fully utilize it by putting in bleachers and playing other sports, including basketball, there. They hired Fred Lewis to be their new basketball coach and he brought in an exciting, full court style of play to attract the fans. Then he recruited our greatest ever player, Dave Bing and also allowed a walk-on named Jim Boeheim to be part of the team.

We were in the NIT in Fred’s second season, which was a much bigger deal then than now because there were only 24 teams in the NCAA tournament. After a disappointing season in 1964-65, the team had a legendary year in 1965-66, coming within a basket of being the first team to average 100 points a game during the regular season and losing to Duke in the Eastern Regional Finals, (the elite 8). The next year Bing and Boeheim were gone but their teammates shocked everyone with a 19-2 start and top ten ranking before fading at the end of the season to 20-6. Then despite some strong recruiting, and partially because of some academic and legal problems, the team slipped to 11-14 and then 9-16 as Lewis was replaced by Roy Danforth. The 1969-70 team started 6-0 but faded to 12-12. The next year’s team, led by 6-11 Bill Smith, did not fade and went 19-7, losing in the NIT, starting an incredible streak of 51 consecutive winning seasons, the second best in history to UCLA’s 54 straight from 1948-2002. It had long been my ambition to see Syracuse surpass UCLA’s streak and remain in the record books for a long time, (Kansas currently has a 39 year streak, begun in 1982-83). For years we’ve bemoaned the fact that other schools went to more Final Fours and won more NCAA championships, but we had that streak. They had all had losing or even seasons while we marched onward. The streak is not gone but it’s over and that, if not tragic, is at least very regrettable.

And we’ve done a lot of regretting in recent years. It came to a head last season as SU fans increasingly came to the conclusion that the program had been slipping for years and that the slide was accelerating. Fans can be loyal, interested, critical or apathetic. They were critical last year. The next step, if we can’t get back on track, is apathy. Most of us in our lives are surrounded by mediocrity, (much of which we supply ourselves) and rooting for a successful sports team allows us to live on a higher plane, at least for a time. John Thomas was the overwhelming favorite to win the high jump at the 1960 Olympics, at the height of the cold war, but lost to Russians and found a personal war of coldness when he returned home: "They love you when you win but they don't give credit to a man for trying. In the champion, they see what they'd like to be. In the loser, they see what they actually are, and they treat him with scorn." There was the beginning of that level of bitterness in many fan’s reactions to Syracuse’s 16-17 season last year.

There was a conspiracy theory that Jim Boeheim had purposely made sure not to recruit anyone for the team better than his two sons, Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim, so he could be justified playing them virtually the whole game without controversy. If that was his plan, it didn’t work. There was plenty of controversy about their playing time all season, even though the four new guys he brought in for the team were a guy who scored 36 points on North Carolina, a guy who scored 28 points on Duke, a guy who had 20 assists in two games, (Florida State and Duke) in the ACC tournament and a disappointing 5-star recruit. (As I type this, news has come through that Buddy Boeheim has made the roster of the Detroit Pistons and Cole Swider, the guy who scored 36 on the Heels, will be a Los Angeles Laker this year.) It didn’t help when Jim said after the season that this was his “best season” because he got to coach his sons, which cynical fans interpreted as meaning that he didn’t care if we won or lost, as long as his sons played.

Then there was the great debate over the meaning of “being competitive”. On poster stated that we weren’t winning because we lacked the talent to compete with the teams we were playing. I responded that our record was 16-17, which, by itself, suggests that we were competitive. If you look at the scores, we lost games by 1, 3, 4, 5 and 5 points. We also two games by 9 points to North Carolina and Duke, 10 points to Notre Dame, 11 points to Pittsburgh, 12 points to Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia Tech, 14 points to Villanova, 15 points to Colgate, 20 points to Duke and 21 points to Auburn. Duke and Auburn were both ranked #1 some point last year and North Carolina played for the national championship. Villanova wound up ranked #4. Notre Dame went 24-11, Virginia Commonwealth 22-10 and Virginia Tech 23-13. The Colgate loss was a red flag: we hadn’t lost to them since 1962. The Red Raiders won the Patriot League for the second straight year and finished 23-12. Pittsburgh was an outlier, going 11-21, including a previous 77-61 SU victory, two weeks before the loss. Oh, there were also wins over Indiana, (112-110), Florida State (63-60 and 96-57), Clemson (91-78), Wake Forest (97-72), NC State (89-82), Louisville (92-69), Boston College (73-64 and 76-56) and Georgia Tech (74-73). There might have been more if our outstanding young center, Jesse Edwards, hadn’t broken his wrist with 7 games to go, 5 of which we lost and our leading scorer, Buddy Boeheim, hadn’t uncharacteristically gotten himself suspended for throwing a punch in the first round of the ACC tournament. With those guys, we might have even made a run at the NCAA tournament.

When I pointed these things out I was accused of ‘whitewashing’ SU’s record and seeing things through orange-colored glasses, (or was it orangewashing the record and wearing white glasses?). I responded that I was just saying that we won or had good chances to win most of our games and the ones we were decisively beaten tended to be against highly ranked teams or early in the season. Then I was told that I didn’t understand what “being competitive” meant. What my critics really meant was that we were no longer competitive for the national championship, which used to be our standard. We’ve been to six Final Fours, played for the title three times and won it once, losing on a jumper with 4 seconds left in another and losing by 9 to a team with eight future NBA players in the other. From 2009-14 we averaged 30 wins a year and had three different teams that achieved a #1 ranking. That’s where Syracuse basketball should be and we’d slipped from that peak to be a middle-of the pack ACC program with 8 consecutive season of double-digit losses. We weren’t competitive with what Syracuse should be. That one national championship ties us with 22 schools that have won that many, including CCNY, Holy Cross, LaSalle, Loyola of Chicago and UTEP. Six schools have two of them. Our old friends Louisville and Villanova have three. Our other old friend, Connecticut, has four as does Kansas, who won it last year. Duke and Indiana have 5, North Carolina 6, Kentucky 8 and UCLA 11. We want to climb up and join the programs we consider to be elite so we can be elite ourselves. And not only have we slid away from contention for the national title, we seem to get farther away with each year. And now the streak that made us special was gone. That’s the problem, not being competitive with the teams we are playing.

Jim Boeheim would surely love to win another national championship and go out on top. To that end, he’s recruited his largest class ever, (5 freshmen plus a transfer), one that could transform this program in the next few years. But will they change it for the better, or will we just fall short for different reasons? I decided last spring to take an in-depth look at the new class and what was being said about them: The view from here

In that post I summarized the changing attitude of the fans toward the incoming class: “I put each of their names: Quadir Copeland, (#143 nationally/#21 combo guard per 247), Justin Taylor, (#108/#26 small forward), Chris Bunch, (#96/#25 small forward), Maliq Brown (#235/#50 power forward), and Peter Carey, (#264/#59 power forward), into my search engine and read everything in the first five pages. I clicked on “videos” and watched everything that came up. I then went our basketball recruiting page and read through the threads on each player.

Reading the threads was an interesting exercise. The pattern as that the interest of the player in the schools and the school in the player was reported and our posters would begin wondering who they were and start to collect information and videos. There would be comparisons to other prospects and debates about which ones we wanted. Many posters were very enthusiastic about Quadir, Justin, Chris, Maliq and Peter. Others preferred other targets, such as Dior Johnson, (#23/4th point guard) who committed to us and backed out and will be playing for Oregon, (Update: he de-committed from the Ducks and will be playing for Pittsburgh), Zion Cruz (#38/#2 shooting guard) who is going to DePaul, JJ Starling (#30/#5 combo guard), a local kid who opted for Notre Dame, Chance Westry (#31/#9 small forward) who committed to rising power Auburn, Kamari Lands (#47/#13 small forward), who also committed and then backed out before choosing Louisville, Kyle Filipowski, (#3/#2 center) – Duke, of course, and Donovan Clingan (#43/#10 center) who will play for our old pals, the Connecticut Huskies. A more recent development has been our attempts to coax Judah Mintz, (#53/#9 combo guard), who will probably announce next week and is said to favor joining Zion Cruz at DePaul, which is obviously making a big comeback. What a class we could have made of five of them! (Update: JB convinced him to come here.)

As the higher rated recruits broke away the focus became getting commitments from the five guys we got. Praise for them increased. The highlight films were reviewed and created excitement, (that’s what highlight films are designed to do). There was a lot of tension, hoping and even praying as each kid made their decision. When they finally decided on Syracuse, there was joyous celebration and congratulations to Jim Boeheim and the staff, (mostly Gerry McNamara) and all the hard work they did. There were stories about their visiting the player’s games frequently, (they were pointed out in the stands in some videos and pictures), of Jim Boeheim picking up a player himself at the Syracuse airport and having him over for a barbeque, maintaining contact with texts and other social media, etc. The future was secured.

Then the SU basketball season started. We lost too many early games and the team’s limitations were constantly discussed. Posters soured not just on the team but the coaching staff. This seemed to invade the threads on the new recruits. Their strengths stopped being discussed and their limitations or questions were emphasized. The belief that the new class’s mediocrity compared to the guys we have/should have gotten guaranteed that the program will continue to be mediocre at best. At worst, the same things that happened to the football program in the 2000’s and the lacrosse program in the 2010.s was now happening to the basketball program: it was falling apart. The coaches were now blamed for not doing enough to get the real blue chippers. That old picture of Jim Boeheim falling asleep at a summer league game in a high school gym was summoned up to represent Jim’s supposed attitude toward recruiting and the future of the program in general. His statement about this being a “great season” despite a 16-17 record because he got to coach his sons was thrown onto the fire. Things were pretty bleak and the supposed mediocrity of the new class was said to symbolize it.”

For this preview, as I usually do, I got Lindy’s College Basketball preview, (I usually get Athlon’s, too for a stereoscopic view but they didn’t seem to be publishing one anymore). On page 220 they have a list of the top 100 incoming freshman. The only one of our guys to make the cut was Judah Mintz, who was rated 79th. Duke also had a six man class: #1, #4, #8, #14, #40, #66. How do we compete with that? Nonetheless, watching the highlight films of our six guys I do believe that they are dynamic talents who could create a renaissance for our program. But that’s looking at them through my orange-colored glasses. Even I wonder why they look so good to me when they aren’t highly rated by others. One theory: basketball has been booming so much that players who would have been in the top 20 a generation ago, might just be in the top 50 or even the top 100 now because there are so many more players who receive better training at earlier ages than ever before. Another theory is that once you get past the truly elite recruits, say the top 10, the next 50 or 100 players aren’t that much different from one another. And they are all at various stages of their development. I remember Oshae Brissett was ranked the #128 recruit in his class and people complained about that we recruited him: How can we compete with the big buys with recruits that aren’t even in the top 100? Well, Oshae started for two years for us and averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game and is presently employed by the Indiana Pacers of the NBA. If one of our new recruits turns out to be as good as Oshae, we’ll all be delighted. If all of them do, we’ll be kicking butt and taking names.

I decided to look at the current rankings on the site 247, (which combines the rankings of other services), just to update them: Judah Mintz was rated the 51st best recruit in the country and the 7th best ‘combo’ guard. Chris Bunch was #107, the 27th best small forward. Justin Taylor is #124 and the 30th best small forward. Quadir Copeland is #136 and the 17th best combo guard. Maliq Brown was #220 and the #48 power forward. Peter Carey is #248 and the 55th best power forward. That’s not very encouraging, especially when you compare it to Duke’s class. I think that this is a good group, nonetheless, and they may well fit together and be better than the sum of it’s parts.

But I’ve also done a study on five man classes, covered in the same thread, (see link, above): “That’s seven previous freshman classes that were this large. Sixteen players stayed here through their full eligibility. Three players lasted for 3 years, Twelve stayed for 2 years. Three left after 1 year. One guy never played. That’s an average of two 4-year players, two 2-year players and another guy that leaves after the first year from a 5 year class.” So it’s hard to hold these classes together. And now it’s harder than ever with the transfer portal: players who aren’t starting see no reason to stay if someone out there may need their talents. Attrition may destroy any chance for their group to gel. Recruiting may be harder as well: what if we can’t match other schools’ NIL? Name, Image and Likeness isn’t just about doing car commercials. Boosters can offer players exorbitant salaries in exchange for e coming here, (as Adam Weitsman recently did: Syracuse’s John Wildhack on Adam Weitsman’s plan to offer $1M to single recruit: ‘That’s an individual decision’ ) What if these guys leave and we can’t replace them?

And what if, in one of Jim Boeheim’s favorite phrases, some of them “weren’t able to help us”, like Matthew Moyer, (#66, the 10th best small forward), Jalen Carey, (#61, the 7th best combo guard), Brycen Goodine, (#97, the 15th best shooting guard) and Woody Newton, (#147 and the 30th best power forward), all recent busts. Then there’s Benny Williams (#32 and the 8th best small forward), who last year averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds a game for us while shooting 34% from the field 9% from the arc and 62% from the line.

Masny in fan base have already descended into cynicism. Another year like the last eight – or worse and apathy will set in and that could set this program back for years. I’m a Met fan and was pleased and delighted to see my team burst out of the gate like champions and win more games than they had since their 1986 champions. They not only had good players but those players played an aggressive, efficient and opportunistic brand of ball that was a joy to watch. They ran out of gas at the end and we got caught by the defending champion Braves and lost to a Padre team that could be the next champion, (Update: Nope.) but, to use Buck Showwalter’s favorite term, they were “fun to watch”. The SU football team did the same thing and are having a huge comeback season of their own at this writing. They are also fun to watch. (Update: They were.) This year’s SU basketball team could be fun to watch as well and could win like we haven’t won in years. We need them to, or the Jim Boeheim Era may, like the streak of winning seasons, end with whimper instead of a bang.
 

cliftonparksufan

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SU’s true nadir in basketball came in the 1961-62 season, when they opened 0-22, setting a national record with a 27 game losing streak, before rallying to win the last two games of the season. Then four things happened that totally turned around the program. Manley Field House opened as our original football indoor practice facility and the school decided they could more fully utilize it by putting in bleachers and playing other sports, including basketball, there. They hired Fred Lewis to be their new basketball coach and he brought in an exciting, full court style of play to attract the fans. Then he recruited our greatest ever player, Dave Bing and also allowed a walk-on named Jim Boeheim to be part of the team.

We were in the NIT in Fred’s second season, which was a much bigger deal then than now because there were only 24 teams in the NCAA tournament. After a disappointing season in 1964-65, the team had a legendary year in 1965-66, coming within a basket of being the first team to average 100 points a game during the regular season and losing to Duke in the Eastern Regional Finals, (the elite 8). The next year Bing and Boeheim were gone but their teammates shocked everyone with a 19-2 start and top ten ranking before fading at the end of the season to 20-6. Then despite some strong recruiting, and partially because of some academic and legal problems, the team slipped to 11-14 and then 9-16 as Lewis was replaced by Roy Danforth. The 1969-70 team started 6-0 but faded to 12-12. The next year’s team, led by 6-11 Bill Smith, did not fade and went 19-7, losing in the NIT, starting an incredible streak of 51 consecutive winning seasons, the second best in history to UCLA’s 54 straight from 1948-2002. It had long been my ambition to see Syracuse surpass UCLA’s streak and remain in the record books for a long time, (Kansas currently has a 39 year streak, begun in 1982-83). For years we’ve bemoaned the fact that other schools went to more Final Fours and won more NCAA championships, but we had that streak. They had all had losing or even seasons while we marched onward. The streak is not gone but it’s over and that, if not tragic, is at least very regrettable.

And we’ve done a lot of regretting in recent years. It came to a head last season as SU fans increasingly came to the conclusion that the program had been slipping for years and that the slide was accelerating. Fans can be loyal, interested, critical or apathetic. They were critical last year. The next step, if we can’t get back on track, is apathy. Most of us in our lives are surrounded by mediocrity, (much of which we supply ourselves) and rooting for a successful sports team allows us to live on a higher plane, at least for a time. John Thomas was the overwhelming favorite to win the high jump at the 1960 Olympics, at the height of the cold war, but lost to Russians and found a personal war of coldness when he returned home: "They love you when you win but they don't give credit to a man for trying. In the champion, they see what they'd like to be. In the loser, they see what they actually are, and they treat him with scorn." There was the beginning of that level of bitterness in many fan’s reactions to Syracuse’s 16-17 season last year.

There was a conspiracy theory that Jim Boeheim had purposely made sure not to recruit anyone for the team better than his two sons, Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim, so he could be justified playing them virtually the whole game without controversy. If that was his plan, it didn’t work. There was plenty of controversy about their playing time all season, even though the four new guys he brought in for the team were a guy who scored 36 points on North Carolina, a guy who scored 28 points on Duke, a guy who had 20 assists in two games, (Florida State and Duke) in the ACC tournament and a disappointing 5-star recruit. (As I type this, news has come through that Buddy Boeheim has made the roster of the Detroit Pistons and Cole Swider, the guy who scored 36 on the Heels, will be a Los Angeles Laker this year.) It didn’t help when Jim said after the season that this was his “best season” because he got to coach his sons, which cynical fans interpreted as meaning that he didn’t care if we won or lost, as long as his sons played.

Then there was the great debate over the meaning of “being competitive”. On poster stated that we weren’t winning because we lacked the talent to compete with the teams we were playing. I responded that our record was 16-17, which, by itself, suggests that we were competitive. If you look at the scores, we lost games by 1, 3, 4, 5 and 5 points. We also two games by 9 points to North Carolina and Duke, 10 points to Notre Dame, 11 points to Pittsburgh, 12 points to Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia Tech, 14 points to Villanova, 15 points to Colgate, 20 points to Duke and 21 points to Auburn. Duke and Auburn were both ranked #1 some point last year and North Carolina played for the national championship. Villanova wound up ranked #4. Notre Dame went 24-11, Virginia Commonwealth 22-10 and Virginia Tech 23-13. The Colgate loss was a red flag: we hadn’t lost to them since 1962. The Red Raiders won the Patriot League for the second straight year and finished 23-12. Pittsburgh was an outlier, going 11-21, including a previous 77-61 SU victory, two weeks before the loss. Oh, there were also wins over Indiana, (112-110), Florida State (63-60 and 96-57), Clemson (91-78), Wake Forest (97-72), NC State (89-82), Louisville (92-69), Boston College (73-64 and 76-56) and Georgia Tech (74-73). There might have been more if our outstanding young center, Jesse Edwards, hadn’t broken his wrist with 7 games to go, 5 of which we lost and our leading scorer, Buddy Boeheim, hadn’t uncharacteristically gotten himself suspended for throwing a punch in the first round of the ACC tournament. With those guys, we might have even made a run at the NCAA tournament.

When I pointed these things out I was accused of ‘whitewashing’ SU’s record and seeing things through orange-colored glasses, (or was it orangewashing the record and wearing white glasses?). I responded that I was just saying that we won or had good chances to win most of our games and the ones we were decisively beaten tended to be against highly ranked teams or early in the season. Then I was told that I didn’t understand what “being competitive” meant. What my critics really meant was that we were no longer competitive for the national championship, which used to be our standard. We’ve been to six Final Fours, played for the title three times and won it once, losing on a jumper with 4 seconds left in another and losing by 9 to a team with eight future NBA players in the other. From 2009-14 we averaged 30 wins a year and had three different teams that achieved a #1 ranking. That’s where Syracuse basketball should be and we’d slipped from that peak to be a middle-of the pack ACC program with 8 consecutive season of double-digit losses. We weren’t competitive with what Syracuse should be. That one national championship ties us with 22 schools that have won that many, including CCNY, Holy Cross, LaSalle, Loyola of Chicago and UTEP. Six schools have two of them. Our old friends Louisville and Villanova have three. Our other old friend, Connecticut, has four as does Kansas, who won it last year. Duke and Indiana have 5, North Carolina 6, Kentucky 8 and UCLA 11. We want to climb up and join the programs we consider to be elite so we can be elite ourselves. And not only have we slid away from contention for the national title, we seem to get farther away with each year. And now the streak that made us special was gone. That’s the problem, not being competitive with the teams we are playing.

Jim Boeheim would surely love to win another national championship and go out on top. To that end, he’s recruited his largest class ever, (5 freshmen plus a transfer), one that could transform this program in the next few years. But will they change it for the better, or will we just fall short for different reasons? I decided last spring to take an in-depth look at the new class and what was being said about them: The view from here

In that post I summarized the changing attitude of the fans toward the incoming class: “I put each of their names: Quadir Copeland, (#143 nationally/#21 combo guard per 247), Justin Taylor, (#108/#26 small forward), Chris Bunch, (#96/#25 small forward), Maliq Brown (#235/#50 power forward), and Peter Carey, (#264/#59 power forward), into my search engine and read everything in the first five pages. I clicked on “videos” and watched everything that came up. I then went our basketball recruiting page and read through the threads on each player.

Reading the threads was an interesting exercise. The pattern as that the interest of the player in the schools and the school in the player was reported and our posters would begin wondering who they were and start to collect information and videos. There would be comparisons to other prospects and debates about which ones we wanted. Many posters were very enthusiastic about Quadir, Justin, Chris, Maliq and Peter. Others preferred other targets, such as Dior Johnson, (#23/4th point guard) who committed to us and backed out and will be playing for Oregon, (Update: he de-committed from the Ducks and will be playing for Pittsburgh), Zion Cruz (#38/#2 shooting guard) who is going to DePaul, JJ Starling (#30/#5 combo guard), a local kid who opted for Notre Dame, Chance Westry (#31/#9 small forward) who committed to rising power Auburn, Kamari Lands (#47/#13 small forward), who also committed and then backed out before choosing Louisville, Kyle Filipowski, (#3/#2 center) – Duke, of course, and Donovan Clingan (#43/#10 center) who will play for our old pals, the Connecticut Huskies. A more recent development has been our attempts to coax Judah Mintz, (#53/#9 combo guard), who will probably announce next week and is said to favor joining Zion Cruz at DePaul, which is obviously making a big comeback. What a class we could have made of five of them! (Update: JB convinced him to come here.)

As the higher rated recruits broke away the focus became getting commitments from the five guys we got. Praise for them increased. The highlight films were reviewed and created excitement, (that’s what highlight films are designed to do). There was a lot of tension, hoping and even praying as each kid made their decision. When they finally decided on Syracuse, there was joyous celebration and congratulations to Jim Boeheim and the staff, (mostly Gerry McNamara) and all the hard work they did. There were stories about their visiting the player’s games frequently, (they were pointed out in the stands in some videos and pictures), of Jim Boeheim picking up a player himself at the Syracuse airport and having him over for a barbeque, maintaining contact with texts and other social media, etc. The future was secured.

Then the SU basketball season started. We lost too many early games and the team’s limitations were constantly discussed. Posters soured not just on the team but the coaching staff. This seemed to invade the threads on the new recruits. Their strengths stopped being discussed and their limitations or questions were emphasized. The belief that the new class’s mediocrity compared to the guys we have/should have gotten guaranteed that the program will continue to be mediocre at best. At worst, the same things that happened to the football program in the 2000’s and the lacrosse program in the 2010.s was now happening to the basketball program: it was falling apart. The coaches were now blamed for not doing enough to get the real blue chippers. That old picture of Jim Boeheim falling asleep at a summer league game in a high school gym was summoned up to represent Jim’s supposed attitude toward recruiting and the future of the program in general. His statement about this being a “great season” despite a 16-17 record because he got to coach his sons was thrown onto the fire. Things were pretty bleak and the supposed mediocrity of the new class was said to symbolize it.”

For this preview, as I usually do, I got Lindy’s College Basketball preview, (I usually get Athlon’s, too for a stereoscopic view but they didn’t seem to be publishing one anymore). On page 220 they have a list of the top 100 incoming freshman. The only one of our guys to make the cut was Judah Mintz, who was rated 79th. Duke also had a six man class: #1, #4, #8, #14, #40, #66. How do we compete with that? Nonetheless, watching the highlight films of our six guys I do believe that they are dynamic talents who could create a renaissance for our program. But that’s looking at them through my orange-colored glasses. Even I wonder why they look so good to me when they aren’t highly rated by others. One theory: basketball has been booming so much that players who would have been in the top 20 a generation ago, might just be in the top 50 or even the top 100 now because there are so many more players who receive better training at earlier ages than ever before. Another theory is that once you get past the truly elite recruits, say the top 10, the next 50 or 100 players aren’t that much different from one another. And they are all at various stages of their development. I remember Oshae Brissett was ranked the #128 recruit in his class and people complained about that we recruited him: How can we compete with the big buys with recruits that aren’t even in the top 100? Well, Oshae started for two years for us and averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game and is presently employed by the Indiana Pacers of the NBA. If one of our new recruits turns out to be as good as Oshae, we’ll all be delighted. If all of them do, we’ll be kicking butt and taking names.

I decided to look at the current rankings on the site 247, (which combines the rankings of other services), just to update them: Judah Mintz was rated the 51st best recruit in the country and the 7th best ‘combo’ guard. Chris Bunch was #107, the 27th best small forward. Justin Taylor is #124 and the 30th best small forward. Quadir Copeland is #136 and the 17th best combo guard. Maliq Brown was #220 and the #48 power forward. Peter Carey is #248 and the 55th best power forward. That’s not very encouraging, especially when you compare it to Duke’s class. I think that this is a good group, nonetheless, and they may well fit together and be better than the sum of it’s parts.

But I’ve also done a study on five man classes, covered in the same thread, (see link, above): “That’s seven previous freshman classes that were this large. Sixteen players stayed here through their full eligibility. Three players lasted for 3 years, Twelve stayed for 2 years. Three left after 1 year. One guy never played. That’s an average of two 4-year players, two 2-year players and another guy that leaves after the first year from a 5 year class.” So it’s hard to hold these classes together. And now it’s harder than ever with the transfer portal: players who aren’t starting see no reason to stay if someone out there may need their talents. Attrition may destroy any chance for their group to gel. Recruiting may be harder as well: what if we can’t match other schools’ NIL? Name, Image and Likeness isn’t just about doing car commercials. Boosters can offer players exorbitant salaries in exchange for e coming here, (as Adam Weitsman recently did: Syracuse’s John Wildhack on Adam Weitsman’s plan to offer $1M to single recruit: ‘That’s an individual decision’ ) What if these guys leave and we can’t replace them?

And what if, in one of Jim Boeheim’s favorite phrases, some of them “weren’t able to help us”, like Matthew Moyer, (#66, the 10th best small forward), Jalen Carey, (#61, the 7th best combo guard), Brycen Goodine, (#97, the 15th best shooting guard) and Woody Newton, (#147 and the 30th best power forward), all recent busts. Then there’s Benny Williams (#32 and the 8th best small forward), who last year averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds a game for us while shooting 34% from the field 9% from the arc and 62% from the line.

Masny in fan base have already descended into cynicism. Another year like the last eight – or worse and apathy will set in and that could set this program back for years. I’m a Met fan and was pleased and delighted to see my team burst out of the gate like champions and win more games than they had since their 1986 champions. They not only had good players but those players played an aggressive, efficient and opportunistic brand of ball that was a joy to watch. They ran out of gas at the end and we got caught by the defending champion Braves and lost to a Padre team that could be the next champion, (Update: Nope.) but, to use Buck Showwalter’s favorite term, they were “fun to watch”. The SU football team did the same thing and are having a huge comeback season of their own at this writing. They are also fun to watch. (Update: They were.) This year’s SU basketball team could be fun to watch as well and could win like we haven’t won in years. We need them to, or the Jim Boeheim Era may, like the streak of winning seasons, end with whimper instead of a bang.
Good stuff. If there's any season where the team is better at the end of the season, than at the beginning, this would be the one. Let's hope everyone stays healthy and works hard to gel as a team.
 

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