Due to the multiple NCAA violations, Syracuse will have a hard row to hoe over the next few seasons. But what does it really mean for this year’s team?
The biggest concern is the fact Jim Boeheim will not be on the bench for the first nine ACC games. And there are some big ones during that stretch. North Carolina comes to the Dome January 9. The Orange travel to Duke nine days later. They then travel to Virginia before Notre Dame makes the trip to the Carrier Dome for the final game of Boeheim’s ban.
The only thing that could save that stretch is the fact Boeheim could actually coach those games. Syracuse is still waiting to hear back on the final decision of his appeal, which is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Either way, Mike Hopkins will take over his role as head coach at some point this season for a few games. While that is valuable experience for him, the players will not benefit as much with Boeheim not even able to speak to them during his suspension. Hopkins will have a battle to show he is ready to lead a young squad during the games he is in charge.
The other big impact will be the short bench Boeheim or Hopkins will have to work with. Only nine players are on scholarship this year. The pain was felt early when they were forced to give up on the pursuit of Rochester big man Thomas Bryant, now with Indiana. That would have been a benefit, adding some frontcourt depth, an area the Orange are weak.
Instead, now the Orange will have to worry about injuries more than usual. A big, talented backcourt will take some of the pressure off the lack of depth in the post.
One of the biggest question marks this year is if DaJuan Coleman can stay healthy. If the Orange want to be successful this season, he will have to. He is the most experienced post player on the roster, but he hasn’t been able to play a full season and missed all of last season following knee surgery. Coleman has only played in 36 games in his career, but will have to stay healthy this year to develop into a real post presence for the short-handed Orange.
But a short bench doesn’t mean a team can’t have success. You only have to look to last season’s national champion, Duke, who played an eight man rotation. So, even though it doesn’t really help to be short-handed all year, it doesn’t spell trouble yet unless the injury bug hits.