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Wait 'Til Next Year

With the disappointment of 2004-2005 Orange hoops officially history, it’s time for a glance into next season. With all the roster changes that will be taking place within the revamped Big East this offseason (read: Charlie Villaneuva/Francisco Garcia/etc. to the NBA) there is very little that can be concretely assumed regarding where Syracuse will finish next season. However, it can’t hurt to take a glimpse at what Coach Boeheim will be trotting out onto the court when practice opens next October.

Projected 2005-2006 Roster of Scholarship Players:

G: #B. Edelin (Sr.)
E. Devendorf (Fr.)
*T. Mayben (Fr.)
L. McCroskey (Jr)
G. McNamara (Sr.)
^J. Wright (So.)

F: M. Gorman (Sr.)
D. Nichols (Jr.)
T. Roberts (Jr.)
#D. Wright (So.)

C: A. Onuaku (Fr.)
D. Watkins (Jr.)

# = Likely leaving program
* = Likely attending preparatory school
^ = Potentially leaving program

As it stands right now, it appears likely that Tiki Mayben will not be enrolling at Syracuse when the academic year begins next August. Currently, Mayben has yet to gain a qualifying score on his college boards. Considering the disciplinary issues that has plagued the young point guard the past two seasons, a year in preparatory school may be just what the doctor ordered for Mayben to find his niche as a scholar-athlete.

Dayshawn Wright and Billy Edelin may have played their last games in orange. Edelin has all but released himself from his scholarship, and I cannot foresee Coach Boeheim putting up with the daily drama that has been the Edelin Project. For everything that Edelin provided on the floor during the championship run, his personal affairs have permanently diluted any talent he can bring to the roster.

In regards to Dayshawn Wright, Mike Veley saw more time on the hardwood than Dayshawn did this season. Wright would have been in the rotation next season, considering the dearth of rebounding presence Syracuse will have, but it appears as if Wright believes he should be used in a more prominent role.

All I can say is have some fun at Mid-Major University. Say hello to De Shaun Williams and Tony Bland for me.

Until Boeheim comes clean as to why Josh Wright didn’t show up for the debacle, it’s difficult to figure out where the young point guard is standing in this shakedown. If Josh is in Orange next year, he’ll be starting and logging significant minutes. If not, well, say hello to Greg Davis for me.

This team, on paper, should be a much better shooting team than Syracuse put on the floor this season. McNamara has already proven himself an able perimeter presence. If McCroskey and Nichols can consistently drop eight to ten points a game, Boeheim will have at his disposal three veteran shooters. It’s going to be a question of whether McCroskey can develop into an intelligent shooter by choosing his shot selection more wisely and if Nichols can become a consistent inside-outside contributor.

The X-factor here is Eric Devendorf. Devendorf has some size and the book on him is that he has the spot-up game of a marksman. If Devendorf is as good as advertised from the field, relying on Nichols to climb out of the doghouse could be a non-issue. It may be a lot to ask of a freshman shooter to contribute ten points an outing, but if Devendorf can play as the third option on the floor with defenses focusing on McNamara, it doesn’t seem too ridiculous.

Terrence Roberts has shown glimpses of talent this season. His penchant for thieving in the full-court press combined with his infectious intensity has shown that he has the ability to start for the club. He, along with Darryl Watkins, will be called on to bring the Windex game in and game out. If Roberts can grab seven to ten rebounds a game, there’s no reason why he can’t make a lower All-Big East team next year. If Roberts doesn’t pan out, Syracuse may as well stick its collective head between their knees and kiss their derriere good-bye. There is nothing in terms of power forward presence behind Roberts (read: Gorman), and in the Big East, size and intensity is a prerequisite to controlling the glass.

There shouldn’t be too much surprise if Boeheim hits the trail for a JUCO transfer to try and bulk-up the frontline.

Watkins has the size to be a prototypical Big East inside rover, but needs to control his almost comical foul troubles. There is little but undeveloped talent behind Watkins next year. If there’s any reason why Syracuse isn’t competitive next season, it will be because Watkins is unable to stay on the floor and contribute.

Attention Onuaku: Tie your sneakers and come ready to play.

Next year’s edition of the Orange should be a Top 25 club; probably in the 15-25 region. If Watkins, Roberts, and the slew of big guards/small forwards can slam the glass, the team has a shot at making some noise in the national tournament. There shouldn’t be any Final Four expectations, but asking this team to, at minimum, advance to the Regional Semifinals isn’t too outlandish. There are enough shooters on this squad to be a dangerous matchup on a nightly basis, but as mentioned, it’s going to be a question of defensive toughness and a desire to win the rebounding contest game in and game out.

And even if the season is completely lost, there will be nothing quite like McNamara’s Senior Day.

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