After a surprise run to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Syracuse basketball fans had high hopes for the 2018-2019 season. In recent weeks, however, a couple of monkey wrenches have been thrown into the Orange’s plans to go from bubble team to legitimate contender. Guard Tyus Battle has decided to declare for the NBA draft, and five-star recruit Darius Bazley has chosen to enter the NBA G League straight out of high school rather than play for Jim Boeheim. As basketball fans across New York mourn their seemingly lost national title hopes, here are just a few of the things Syracuse fans have to look forward to next season.
This past season, Syracuse lacked depth at the guard position, with Tyus Battle and Frank Howard both leading the nation in minutes per game. Incoming recruit Jalen Carey, a 6-foot-3 guard from New Jersey, will provide much-needed help when it comes to building depth at guard. Carey, currently ranked 37th in ESPN’s 2018 recruit rankings, can hit shots from range, but also has shown a tremendous ability to drive to the hoop. Now with Tyus Battle heading to the NBA, Carey should be a solid replacement to team up with Frank Howard in the backcourt. Adding another guard in Buddy Boeheim and the return of Howard Washington from injury should make the Orange much more solid at the guard position.
Experienced Oshae Brissett and Marek Dolezaj:
Coming into last season, nobody knew quite what to expect when it came to Syracuse’s two international recruits. Now Canada’s Oshae Brissett and Slovakia’s Marek Dolezaj can enter their sophomore seasons with confidence. Both players showed exceptional improvement throughout their freshman campaigns and played crucial roles during the Orange’s Sweet Sixteen run. Brissett finished the season averaging just under 15 points and 9 rebounds. Dolezaj finished averaging only over 5 points per game but averaged over 10 points in four games in the NCAA Tournament. After getting their feet wet and finishing their first years strong, these two foreign talents will hold a solid presence in the Orange lineup next season.
A Good Home Conference Schedule:
The ACC recently released the home and away opponents for next season. The Orange gets the benefit of some good, albeit tough, matchups in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse will have to travel to Cameron Indoor next year but also gets to welcome Duke to central New York. Virginia, Miami, Louisville, Florida State, and Clemson are just some of the formidable ACC foes that the Orange has the home court advantage against next season. In recent years, Syracuse has been streaky at best when it comes to winning on the road. Getting to face some of its toughest conference opponents on the home court is a huge benefit for this Orange team.
The losses of Darius Bazley and Tyus Battle hurt, but the outlook for the Orange still looks pretty good. Adding depth at guard, a more experienced frontcourt, and a favorable home schedule in conference play are all reasons fans should still be excited about this Syracuse team. No need to fear, brighter days are still near in central New York.