An experienced backcourt unit is the strength of the Orange this season. Brianna Butler could set records for Syracuse, Brittney Sykes is looking to bounce back to form after a knee injury took her out last season, Alexis Peterson is trying to prove she can be the go-to scorer for this team, and the talented freshmen are trying to see the court to make their mark on this team.
Butler has already written her name all over the record books for the Orange, and in her final season, she has a chance to put her stamp on program history. With 1,137 points thus far in her career, she has a chance to pretty easily move into the top five in scoring in school history. She will almost certainly take over the top spot in career three-point buckets made, needing only 77 makes. She also leads all active players in the NCAA in career three-pointers made with 244. Her long range shooting will be needed against bigger opponents when the Day sisters could be shut down inside. Also, to note, Butler has started every game since coming to Syracuse, a streak that she looks to continue this year.
This is going to have to be a bounce back season for Sykes. After tearing up her knee and missing all but three games last season, the redshirt junior is looking to replicate her magical sophomore season in which she led the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game. But the question remains with her is can she stay healthy this year, or will someone like Cornelia Fondren need to take the load again this year, much like she did last season with Sykes hurt.
Alexis Peterson stepped up big time last season in Sykes absence, leading the team with 16.2 points per game. She also averaged just over four assists per game, playing more of a score first point guard. This year, she should be able to move back to her natural pass first role and focus on getting other players involved. She should be able to find Butler on the wing for a three or Sykes cutting to the basket for a layup. Her court vision showed last year she can score. This year, she needs to show she is just as good of a passer.
Last season, with Sykes out, Fondren stepped into her place, starting the other 29 games. She showed during her junior season she can find the basket when she needs to, but is better at attacking the rim than shooting from range. The Tennessee native can also play in the post, grabbing 5.6 rebounds a game last season. The expected sixth man this season, Fondren can provide a spark off the bench, much like she did during her sophomore season backing up Sykes.
A strong recruiting class is led by two guards in Jade Phillips and Davida Dale. The McDonald’s All-American nominees were both highly recruited before choosing to come play for the Orange and play a similar game. They can both play all over the court, shoot the three and grab rebounds. Phillips will have the advantage in the post, being three inches taller, but Dale is the better overall shooter. Both should provide some youth to a team and develop into the future stars on this team. Being able to learn from the upperclassmen like Butler, Sykes and Peterson won’t hurt either.