The Syracuse Orange sit at 10-4 (1-0) on the 2014-15 campaign. They have had some abnormal early season struggles, but have shown signs of turning things around. What do some former Syracuse stars think of this season’s squad? Do they think they can make a run into and within the NCAA Tournament? CuseNation.com reached out to a few to find out.
Former Orange Guard Eric Devendorf
”I think the team this year has improved very much since the start of the season and have a very good chance of making the tournament. Obviously the two freshmen are inexperienced and it shows at times. Kaleb (Joseph) just has to take care of the ball and run the team with confidence. Chris (McCullough) has to be more aggressive and assert himself on both ends. Has to be more active in the zone, use his length and athletic ability and on offense just be aggressive go strong to the hoop. Mike (Gbinije) and Trev (Trevor Cooney) have been playing great. Both are capable of making plays for others. I have been real impressed with Trev getting to the cup the last 4 or so games. Rak (Rakeem Christmas) is playing outstanding.
”(He) needs to keep playing how he is and stay out of foul trouble as much as possible. We need him in the game at all times and I think the others guys have to contribute in any way possible. Ron (Patterson) has to be able to come in and make shots and handle the ball sometimes. Tyler (Roberson) these past games has found his place and if he keeps rebounding the ball and getting easy buckets he will play the whole game. He has been great. I think our strength this year is the inside game, which is unusual for ‘Cuse. Usually it's the guards, but if people keep doubling on rak in ACC play, then shooters will be open and it will take this team to another level if we can make open shots. Defense will take care of itself. Guys are new to the zone. Once they perfect the rotations and know what spots they need to be before they are there, we will be good. Teams won't be on fire every game. Overall this year didn’t start great but we have the ability to finish strong and make the tournament.”
Former Orange Forward Terrence Roberts
”Rough Year. We are in the rebuilding process, but it could be worse. The good thing is that as the season goes on, you can see we are getting better. We just are lacking shooters right now, which is usually unheard of at Syracuse. But hopefully these young guys are working and getting better everyday. More offensive scoring from the guard position is what’s needed because we have good bigs. They can make a run but only because I don’t think the ACC is very strong this year. But the way we have played, getting into the (NCAA) Tournament may be hard with the losses we have. Especially since the teams that have beat us haven’t been winning. But you never know.”
Former Orange Forward Ryan Blackwell
”They’re getting better and they show signs of being a really good team. They just aren’t consistent. Kaleb and Chris have to stop playing like freshmen. Gbinije and Cooney need to stay aggressive and confident and hopefully Rakeem stays consistent and healthy. The zone isn’t as tough as in the past years. They aren’t doing as good of a job finding the shooters. They’re giving up penetration a little too easy at times. I think they can (correct those problems). Playing defense is effort and awareness. Obviously playing in a zone for an entire game isn’t the norm but they have the personnel to get it done. I really like the way Tyler Roberson is stepping up and playing better. He’s a big key for us. Especially on the boards.”