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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

November 1st, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Syracuse Orange


Overall Rank: #11

Conference Rank: #2 Big East


2005-06: 23-12, 7-9, 9th (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


Syracuse stormed through the Big East Tournament to reach the NCAAs on the shoulders of Gerry McNamara.  With the point guard gone, the Orange will look to hardnosed sophomore Eric Devendorf to run the show.  Devendorf averaged 12.2 points and 2.3 assists on the season and, along with Josh Wright, spelled McNamara at the point last year.  Wright, the only true point guard on the roster, lacked consistency on his outside shot last season, but still could earn some minutes at the shooting guard spot when not running the point.  Sophomore Andy Rautins is expected to provide a long range shooting threat off the bench.


Who’s Out: McNamara averaged a smooth 16.0 points and 5.9 assists per contest during his senior campaign.  McNamara started all 135 games in his career and the fun bus trips from Scranton to Syracuse have unfortunately ended.  Louie McCroskey averaged 3.8 points and 3.3 rebounds last year, but will not be returning to the Orange.


Who’s In: The addition of Paul Harris has Orange fans excited…and rightfully so.  The 6-5 wing will continue to work on his shooting, but he’s an amazing athlete who will get to the basket.  His toughness and athleticism leads to tons of rebounds and tons of points.  If he’s not starting in Novemeber, he will be by December.  Mike Jones is a tweener as a 6-6 forward.  His outside shot isn’t good enough to be a three, but he’s not big or strong enough to play the four.  Wherever he is on the floor, Jones is a great athlete who can handle the ball on the perimeter.  Devin Brennan-McBride’s services won’t be needed this year, but the 6-9 center should develop into a contributor in the coming years. 


Who to Watch: The frontcourt has had its ups and downs over the years, but the group has never really pulled it all together.  This year, the senior trio of Demetris Nichols, Terrence Roberts and Darryl Watkins have no choice but to become team leaders.  If they don’t, the Cuse won’t be taking advantage of their talent and athleticism.  Nichols, the teams returning leading scorer with 13.3 points per game, has turned into a nice catch and shoot player and can drain the long balls with consistency.  Roberts and Watkins won’t be shooting the long ball, but both are capable scorers in the paint.  However, it’s the duos 14.9 rebounds and 2.1 block per game that make this a dynamic and dangerous group of frontcourt players.  Matt Gorman and Arinze Onuaku are a step down, but at least are capable options off the bench. 


Final Projection: There are some concerns if Syracuse wants to make a deep run and be a top ten quality team.  The senior trio up front needs to have more consistency and hit the glass harder, Devendorf and Wright have to handle the point duties and keep the long ball threat intact and Harris has to at least provide quality depth on the perimeter.  None of that is far fetched and the Orange will be in the mix at the top of the Big East.  Once the scent of March is in the air, anything can happen and there is no doubt that Coach Jim Boeheim will have his group ready to play.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Eric Devendorf, Sophomore, Guard, 12.2 points per game

Paul Harris, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Demetris Nichols, Senior, Forward, 13.3 points per game

Terrence Roberts, Senior, Forward, 10.7 points per game

Darryl Watkins, Senior, Center, 7.1 points per game


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