USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at Syracuse basketball's zone for the upcoming season

The Syracuse zone will look different this season compared to year's past.

The zone defense is predicated on length, footwork, rotation and communication. In year's past, Syracuse has had all of that, and it has led to one of the best defense's in college basketball. It is especially effective when there is a shot blocker in the middle of the zone to clean up mistakes. 

In recent years, Syracuse has had Rakeem ChristmasBaye KeitaFab Melo and others. The 2015-16 version lacks that type of elite shot blocker, which will impact the Orange zone. 

Syracuse still has plenty of length, however, which can help force deflections and steals leading to transition opportunities for the offense. Michael Gbinije stands at about 6-foot-5 or 6-6, Trevor Cooney is 6-foot-4, Malachi Richardson is 6-foot-6, Tyler Roberson is 6-foot-8 and DaJuan Coleman is 6-foot-9. That is a lot of length that can cover a lot of floor space. 

Off the bench, a long Tyler Lydon is 6-foot-8 with an enormous wingspan can play either forward position and is learning the center spot. Kaleb Joseph is another 6-foot-4 guard with long arms. Chinonso Obokoh is the backup center at 6-foot-9. Obokoh is Syracuse's best shot at having a legitimate rim protector in the middle. 

The key to the impact of the zone will be the wings. Roberson can bang inside with strong forwards, but having either Gbinije or Richardson on the other wing can leave them vulnerable. Despite having more than enough length, neither has that thick body type to be able to bang inside. That can impact defensive rebounding. 

The guards at the top will be taller and longer than most of their opponents'. That is a huge advantage as it will be difficult for opposing guards to see over the Orange backcourt. Such height and length can help prevent entry passes into the post, cause deflections when trying to pass into the middle of the zone at the foul line and even deflections on swing passes. 

Overall, the Syracuse zone will be good once again. One through four, they may have more length and ability than the last couple of seasons. They should be able to force a lot of turnovers. On paper, Syracuse seems to be vulnerable in the middle without a true big time shot blocker. Opponents will likely try to attack the rim to take advantage of this weakness. 


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