My 2023-24 SU basketball preview Part 7 | Syracusefan.com

My 2023-24 SU basketball preview Part 7

SWC75

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Saturday 12/2/23 12PM in Charlottesville Virginia ESPN2
This will be the first game of the ACC season, which won’t begin in earnest until the 12/30 Pittsburgh game. The Cavaliers have been the bane of our – and many other team’s – existence since Tony Bennett, (no, not the singer, obviously), has been there. Since we joined the conference, we are 3-12 against Tony, having lost 5 in a row, including two games last year.

They may be vulnerable this year. Lindy’s: “UVA [That always looks like “Ultra Violet A”
to me]will rely heavily on transfers and unproven players - some from very low levels – to continue it’s prosperity.” Senior Reese Beekman, (6-3 174), decided not to go to the NBA yet. He averaged 9.5p/5.3r. He’s a “sharp playmaker who can take care of the ball and score”. Georgetown transfer Dante Harris (6-0 170, 11.9p 3.6r 4.1a) “showed the ability to score and set up teammates…Freshman Elijah Gertrude, (6-4 180), is athletic, a good defender, can get to the rim and has a strong mid-range game.” 6-8 208 Ryan Dunn, (2.6p 2.9r) “has good size and can finish near the hoop”. 6-4 179 sophomore Isaac McKneely (6.7p 2.2r) is “a sharpshooter”.

Bennett had lost three of his big men from his “pack line defense”. He’s brought in Jordan Minor form Merrimack (senior 6-8 220, 17.4p 9.4r), the Northeast Conference Player of the Year. He’s a “strong interior scorer and boardman”. Oklahoma transfer Jake Groves, (senior 6-7 185 6.8p 2.5r), “is skilled and can hit the 3”. Freshman Blake Buchanan (6-11 215) is a “Euro-style big with length”. 6-10 238 freshman Anthony Robinson “will contribute closer to the basket”. A redshirt freshman, Leon Bond III, is “not much of a three point guy, but gets his offense every other way”.

Bennett is an amazing coach but if he can create a national title contender or even an ACC contender out of this group, let’s put him in the Hall of Fame now. But we don’t know what we’ve got right now, either.


Tuesday 12/5/23 8PM in the Dome Cornell ACCN
So first Colgate decided to get feisty after all these years. Now Cornell is coming off a 17-11 record having finished 9th in the NCAA in scoring with 81.7ppg. They haven’t beaten us since 12/4/68, just as Colgate hadn’t beaten us since 2/24/62. They get four starters back from that team, including 6-3 184 Nazir Williams (12.9p 3.6r), 6-5 210 Chris Mason (11.0p 2.3s). They have some big men, like 6-9 250 (8.7p 4.4r) and Guy Ragland Jr. (9.4p 4.7r). You just can’t rely on teams to be bad anymore.


Saturday 12/9/23 11:30AM in Washington Georgetown FOX
You also can’t rely on them to be good. This one-time powerhouse collapsed to a 6-25 record two years ago and followed that up with a 7-25 record last year that resulted in a thorough house-cleaning. The very symbol of the powerhouse years, Patrick Ewing, was let go as head coach and Providence’s Ed Cooley hired in his place. Cooley has won as many NCAA tournament games the last two years as Ewing won Big East conference games. He’s made big changes in the roster trying, not so much to right the ship as to re-float it. 6-3 200 Jay Heath has scored over 1,200 points for Boston College and Arizona State and now will add to that total with the Hoyas. He shot 37.5% from three last season. 6-2 190 Jayden Epps averaged 9.5ppg as a freshman at Illinois last year. Ryan Mutombo, Dikembe’s 7-2 255 (2.5p 1.9r) son had four blocks all season. Drew McKenna, a 6-8 200 four star recruit, who can “play the two through the four” and may have to. The wonderfully named Supreme Cook, (I’ll order the Chicken Français) is a 6-9 230 Fairfield transfer who scored 13.1p and grabbed 8.5r last season. 6-8 220 Jamel Massoud is a “sharpshooter” from Kansas State, (5.4p 41.8%). Still, Cooley might do better than Ewing.

Sunday 12/17/23 TBA in Sioux Falls Oregon ESPN2
This is the ‘joker’ on the schedule. Why on earth are we going to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to play Oregon, a highly respectable program that will be another tough team to top? The Ducks were 21-15 last year and 12-8 in the Pac 12. “Coach Dana Altman welcomes a group with size, versatility and experience.” They were held back by injuries last year, losing a combined 57 games to injury. 6-4 210 Jermaine Couisnard missed 17 games but scored 12.8p in the games in which he played. 6-2 175 Keeshawn Barthelemy averaged 13.4. 6-3 180 Brendan Rigsby averaged 9.0p in the nine games he filled in for Couisnard. And here comes 6-4 220 Kario Oquendo from Georgia, where he averaged 14.0 in two seasons at Georgia. Also 6-3 170 Jesse Zarzuela, who scored 16.2p on 42% three pointers and 6-6 210 Jadrian Tracey who hit 43% of his treys in JC.

Their frontcourt has the ability to throw plenty of length at opponents. 6-11 230 N’Faly Dante, coming of torn ACL, is ready to “establish himself as one of the premiere big men in the Pac 12”. He hit 61.5% of his field goals and averaged 13.4p and 8.4r per game. 7-0 215 Nate Bittle averaged 7.3p 5.1r.

Thursday 12/21/23 7PM in the Dome Niagara ACCNX
Long ago, the Purple Eagles were an SU rival. Last year they were 16-15 but they lost 6 players to the portal. Their two returning starters are 6-2 180 Braxton Bayless (5.4p) and 6-6 210 David Mitchell (4.2p). transferring in are 6-7 215 Yaw Obeng-Mensah from Maryland- Baltimore County, (8.5p 6.4r), 6-1 180 Luke Bumbalough from Ball State, (10.9p 2.8a two years ago but only 2.8p 1.4a last year as he dropped from starting 31 games to 6) and 6-5 195 Kwane Marble II from Loyola-Marymount (2.9p but 9.5 two years earlier for Wyoming). This will be the last totally overmatched team we will play this year.

Saturday 12/30/23 12PM in the Dome Pittsburgh The CW
The Panthers are back! Last year, under Jeff Capel, they went 24-12 and 14-8 in the ACC and made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016, winning a couple games before losing in the round of 32. In other words, the year we’d like to have this year.

Capel lost three double figure scorers and another who scored 8.4, so he has some rebuilding to do. Which means he’ll do exactly what he did last year: bring in transfers. But he also recruited a good freshman class and had two potential stars in his back pocket. One of those ‘back pocket stars’ is our old pal Dior Johnson, (6-3 180), who once committed to Syracuse as his dream school and embarrassed JJ Starling in an all-star game. Dior’s strange journey, (he attended 9 different high schools in 5 states, committed to us, then decommitted, was apparently living with LeBron James at one point, (??), committed to Oregon, then decommitted, then actually went to Pittsburgh where, last year, he beat up a woman for making his phone wet. He was suspended, then reinstated after pleading guilty and accepting probation and an intervention on domestic violence. He also redshirted last year.) inevitably resulted in him playing against us rather than for us. “He can score and run the team and should be quite exciting if he remains trouble free.” The basketball court is likely the one place where he feels comfortable and in control of things. He just needs to get a chance to finally play.

The other back-pocket star is 6-7 205 William Jeffress, who missed last season with a toe injury. He “should help out on the boards and on the defensive end”. The prime returnee is 6-7 235 Blake Hinson (15.30, 6.0r). The two key transfers are 6-2 180 Ismael Leggett (16.4p and an impressive 5.8r with 2.4a) from Rhode Island. High Point, (yes, High Point), transfer Zack Austin (6-7 -BasketballReference.com says he’s 6-4 – 215, 14.1p 5.4r, 2.1b) was “the only player in the country to hit at least 60 threes and block 60 shots”. The freshmen include the wonderfully named Papa Amadou Kante (6-10 215) who has “big potential. He will help as a rim protector.” Carlton Carrington (6-4 180) scored over 2,000 points in high school and Jaland Lowe (6-2 170) “makes the right play and has a strong shot”. Yes, those years of beating up on Pittsburgh are over. The Panthers are growling again.
 
Saturday 12/2/23 12PM in Charlottesville Virginia ESPN2
This will be the first game of the ACC season, which won’t begin in earnest until the 12/30 Pittsburgh game. The Cavaliers have been the bane of our – and many other team’s – existence since Tony Bennett, (no, not the singer, obviously), has been there. Since we joined the conference, we are 3-12 against Tony, having lost 5 in a row, including two games last year.

They may be vulnerable this year. Lindy’s: “UVA [That always looks like “Ultra Violet A”
to me]will rely heavily on transfers and unproven players - some from very low levels – to continue it’s prosperity.” Senior Reese Beekman, (6-3 174), decided not to go to the NBA yet. He averaged 9.5p/5.3r. He’s a “sharp playmaker who can take care of the ball and score”. Georgetown transfer Dante Harris (6-0 170, 11.9p 3.6r 4.1a) “showed the ability to score and set up teammates…Freshman Elijah Gertrude, (6-4 180), is athletic, a good defender, can get to the rim and has a strong mid-range game.” 6-8 208 Ryan Dunn, (2.6p 2.9r) “has good size and can finish near the hoop”. 6-4 179 sophomore Isaac McKneely (6.7p 2.2r) is “a sharpshooter”.

Bennett had lost three of his big men from his “pack line defense”. He’s brought in Jordan Minor form Merrimack (senior 6-8 220, 17.4p 9.4r), the Northeast Conference Player of the Year. He’s a “strong interior scorer and boardman”. Oklahoma transfer Jake Groves, (senior 6-7 185 6.8p 2.5r), “is skilled and can hit the 3”. Freshman Blake Buchanan (6-11 215) is a “Euro-style big with length”. 6-10 238 freshman Anthony Robinson “will contribute closer to the basket”. A redshirt freshman, Leon Bond III, is “not much of a three point guy, but gets his offense every other way”.

Bennett is an amazing coach but if he can create a national title contender or even an ACC contender out of this group, let’s put him in the Hall of Fame now. But we don’t know what we’ve got right now, either.


Tuesday 12/5/23 8PM in the Dome Cornell ACCN
So first Colgate decided to get feisty after all these years. Now Cornell is coming off a 17-11 record having finished 9th in the NCAA in scoring with 81.7ppg. They haven’t beaten us since 12/4/68, just as Colgate hadn’t beaten us since 2/24/62. They get four starters back from that team, including 6-3 184 Nazir Williams (12.9p 3.6r), 6-5 210 Chris Mason (11.0p 2.3s). They have some big men, like 6-9 250 (8.7p 4.4r) and Guy Ragland Jr. (9.4p 4.7r). You just can’t rely on teams to be bad anymore.


Saturday 12/9/23 11:30AM in Washington Georgetown FOX
You also can’t rely on them to be good. This one-time powerhouse collapsed to a 6-25 record two years ago and followed that up with a 7-25 record last year that resulted in a thorough house-cleaning. The very symbol of the powerhouse years, Patrick Ewing, was let go as head coach and Providence’s Ed Cooley hired in his place. Cooley has won as many NCAA tournament games the last two years as Ewing won Big East conference games. He’s made big changes in the roster trying, not so much to right the ship as to re-float it. 6-3 200 Jay Heath has scored over 1,200 points for Boston College and Arizona State and now will add to that total with the Hoyas. He shot 37.5% from three last season. 6-2 190 Jayden Epps averaged 9.5ppg as a freshman at Illinois last year. Ryan Mutombo, Dikembe’s 7-2 255 (2.5p 1.9r) son had four blocks all season. Drew McKenna, a 6-8 200 four star recruit, who can “play the two through the four” and may have to. The wonderfully named Supreme Cook, (I’ll order the Chicken Français) is a 6-9 230 Fairfield transfer who scored 13.1p and grabbed 8.5r last season. 6-8 220 Jamel Massoud is a “sharpshooter” from Kansas State, (5.4p 41.8%). Still, Cooley might do better than Ewing.

Sunday 12/17/23 TBA in Sioux Falls Oregon ESPN2
This is the ‘joker’ on the schedule. Why on earth are we going to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to play Oregon, a highly respectable program that will be another tough team to top? The Ducks were 21-15 last year and 12-8 in the Pac 12. “Coach Dana Altman welcomes a group with size, versatility and experience.” They were held back by injuries last year, losing a combined 57 games to injury. 6-4 210 Jermaine Couisnard missed 17 games but scored 12.8p in the games in which he played. 6-2 175 Keeshawn Barthelemy averaged 13.4. 6-3 180 Brendan Rigsby averaged 9.0p in the nine games he filled in for Couisnard. And here comes 6-4 220 Kario Oquendo from Georgia, where he averaged 14.0 in two seasons at Georgia. Also 6-3 170 Jesse Zarzuela, who scored 16.2p on 42% three pointers and 6-6 210 Jadrian Tracey who hit 43% of his treys in JC.

Their frontcourt has the ability to throw plenty of length at opponents. 6-11 230 N’Faly Dante, coming of torn ACL, is ready to “establish himself as one of the premiere big men in the Pac 12”. He hit 61.5% of his field goals and averaged 13.4p and 8.4r per game. 7-0 215 Nate Bittle averaged 7.3p 5.1r.

Thursday 12/21/23 7PM in the Dome Niagara ACCNX
Long ago, the Purple Eagles were an SU rival. Last year they were 16-15 but they lost 6 players to the portal. Their two returning starters are 6-2 180 Braxton Bayless (5.4p) and 6-6 210 David Mitchell (4.2p). transferring in are 6-7 215 Yaw Obeng-Mensah from Maryland- Baltimore County, (8.5p 6.4r), 6-1 180 Luke Bumbalough from Ball State, (10.9p 2.8a two years ago but only 2.8p 1.4a last year as he dropped from starting 31 games to 6) and 6-5 195 Kwane Marble II from Loyola-Marymount (2.9p but 9.5 two years earlier for Wyoming). This will be the last totally overmatched team we will play this year.

Saturday 12/30/23 12PM in the Dome Pittsburgh The CW
The Panthers are back! Last year, under Jeff Capel, they went 24-12 and 14-8 in the ACC and made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016, winning a couple games before losing in the round of 32. In other words, the year we’d like to have this year.

Capel lost three double figure scorers and another who scored 8.4, so he has some rebuilding to do. Which means he’ll do exactly what he did last year: bring in transfers. But he also recruited a good freshman class and had two potential stars in his back pocket. One of those ‘back pocket stars’ is our old pal Dior Johnson, (6-3 180), who once committed to Syracuse as his dream school and embarrassed JJ Starling in an all-star game. Dior’s strange journey, (he attended 9 different high schools in 5 states, committed to us, then decommitted, was apparently living with LeBron James at one point, (??), committed to Oregon, then decommitted, then actually went to Pittsburgh where, last year, he beat up a woman for making his phone wet. He was suspended, then reinstated after pleading guilty and accepting probation and an intervention on domestic violence. He also redshirted last year.) inevitably resulted in him playing against us rather than for us. “He can score and run the team and should be quite exciting if he remains trouble free.” The basketball court is likely the one place where he feels comfortable and in control of things. He just needs to get a chance to finally play.

The other back-pocket star is 6-7 205 William Jeffress, who missed last season with a toe injury. He “should help out on the boards and on the defensive end”. The prime returnee is 6-7 235 Blake Hinson (15.30, 6.0r). The two key transfers are 6-2 180 Ismael Leggett (16.4p and an impressive 5.8r with 2.4a) from Rhode Island. High Point, (yes, High Point), transfer Zack Austin (6-7 -BasketballReference.com says he’s 6-4 – 215, 14.1p 5.4r, 2.1b) was “the only player in the country to hit at least 60 threes and block 60 shots”. The freshmen include the wonderfully named Papa Amadou Kante (6-10 215) who has “big potential. He will help as a rim protector.” Carlton Carrington (6-4 180) scored over 2,000 points in high school and Jaland Lowe (6-2 170) “makes the right play and has a strong shot”. Yes, those years of beating up on Pittsburgh are over. The Panthers are growling again.
Dior got kicked out of Pitt like 3 months ago
 

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