One thing that will help the Lady Orange a great deal this year will be the experience they have returning. Brianna Butler, Alexis Peterson and Briana Day are already established stars and are expected to be the backbone of the team. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough room for one or two players to really step up and take part of the load off these three players.
When Brittney Sykes went down last year with a knee injury, Fondren stepped up big time, starting in Sykes place for 29 games. With Sykes back in the line-up and fully healed, it is fully expected for Fondren to move back to the bench, but that doesn’t mean she can’t still make an impact.
She has proven she can score, finishing with an 8.0 scoring average last season. She has a knack for taking the ball away from opponents, registering 2.09 steals last season, good enough for fifth in the ACC. That’s not to mention she’s a great rebounding guard, finishing last season with three double-doubles.
Even with the expected less playing time, Fondren can be the spark off the bench, the first player off the bench to help the Orange early and often. She’s proven she can help when called upon. There’s no reason she couldn’t be the breakout player for the Orange this season.
One of three players to start every game last season, Slim has played alongside Brianna Day for two seasons now, and Day is only expected to be better after her breakout season last year. This could be the year Slim takes the pressure off Day and becomes a true threat in the post for the Orange.
The junior forward from the Netherlands allows Syracuse to stretch the defense, being able to hit the long ball. She can play in the middle alongside either of the Day sisters. She can swat a couple of shots.
The only concerning thing for Slim is her offensive game dipped last season, scoring only two points a game and only shot 24% from the field, most of those shots coming from distance. However, teams were not expecting Day to step up the way she did last year, forcing the Orange to push the ball inside to take advantage of the mismatches. If Slim moves inside and shoots fewer threes, she could breakout this year for the Orange.
Of the freshmen on the team this year, Phillips could see the most playing time early, being a small forward/guard combo, almost like Malichi Richardson on the men’s team. A McDonald’s All American, Phillips can do pretty much anything on the court. She can shoot, play inside, play outside, block shots, and grab rebounds.
The North Carolina native knows how to win too, taking her team to the final four in the state championships her final three years. That pedigree will help with the transition to big time women’s college basketball. Seeing the court early will only help the transition. If she can score some big buckets or prove she can bang bodies inside early in her career, Phillips is my pick to be the breakout player from this year’s squad.