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Syracuse basketball 2015-16 preview

Syracuse Orange

2014-15 record: 18-13, 9-9 in the ACC

Head coach: Jim Boeheim

Tenure at Syracuse: 40th season

Career coaching record: 966–333 (.744)

Home court: Carrier Dome

Starters: C DaJuan Coleman, F Tyler Roberson, F Kaleb Joseph, G Michael Gbinije, G Trevor Cooney

Bench: C Chinoso Obokoh, G Malachi Richardson, F Moustapha Diagne

Overview: An offseason of turmoil in upstate New York has left the Orange with a series of questions looming overhead. Given that just one projected bench player has any collegiate experience, who will come off the bench to relieve the starters? Is DaJuan Coleman finally healthy enough to be a contributor? Most importantly, what is head coach Jim Boeheim’s status for the beginning of ACC play? An investigation into academic misconduct at Syracuse led the NCAA to ban the second-winningest coach in Division I history for the first nine games of the Orange’s conference schedule.

Look for Syracuse to rely on one of the most experienced backcourts in the country with graduate student guards Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney. Gbinije, originally a member of the Duke program before transferring for his final three years of eligibility, has continually improved on both ends of the floor. His defensive prowess showed in an upset win at Notre Dame, when he collected a career-high six steals. Alongside him will be Cooney, a long-range specialist, who attempted 230 3-pointers last season alone. Together, the pair provides leadership for a squad that brings in four talented freshmen.

Having lost two players to the NBA and another pair to transfers, Syracuse will have no choice but to play its freshmen often this season. Fortunately, with the eighth-ranked recruiting class for 2015, Boeheim will have plenty of talented options off his bench. Malachi Richardson, the No. 5 shooting guard in his class, will be an immediate scoring threat and Moustapha Diagne should help the Orange’s famous 2-3 defensive zone.

One thing that needs to go right: Since an injury during the middle of his sophomore campaign, Coleman has played just one game. A McDonald’s All-American out of high school, the senior center undoubtedly has the talent to be a top performer, but he has never been healthy enough to show it. Syracuse needs Coleman to make it through a full season and be the dominant offensive contributor it always expected him to be.

One thing that could go wrong: Boeheim’s nine-game ACC suspension sets him up to miss games against Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. With such a young team, the absence of the Orange’s head coach could be detrimental and an early-season slump could put the team behind the eight-ball later on in conference play.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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