SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Jim Boeheim is back in a good place as he begins his 43rd season at Syracuse — all five starters return, he has a much stronger bench, and his youngest son is a freshman guard who’s ready to contribute.

“Everybody worked hard. Everybody had a good summer,” Boeheim said Friday during the team’s media day. “I see more improvement than normal with this group. Kind of extraordinary.”

Despite an injury-riddled roster that relied too heavily on three players — guards Tyus Battle and Frank Howard and freshman forward Oshae Brissett — Syracuse made the NCAA Tournament last spring after a one-year hiatus and reached the Sweet 16 with three dominant defensive performances, finishing at 23-14 after losing to Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke in the round of 16.

That was with a roster that featured four freshmen, a redshirt freshman and two upperclassmen starting for the first time, and a bench that consisted mainly of two players — redshirt freshman Matthew Moyer and freshman forward Bourama Sidibe. Moyer transferred after the season. Back for his junior year after giving the NBA a long look after last season, Battle will lead a team that’s expected to be ranked, something that eluded the Orange a year ago. Battle led the team in scoring (19.2), finishing with 712 points, the highest total for a sophomore in school history and sixth highest overall. He also was a second-team All-ACC selection.

“I think he had a tremendous offseason,” Boeheim said about Battle. “He worked extremely hard. He’s shooting the ball better. Overall, he’s a better player. He had a really good year last year, made a lot of big shots in a lot of games. I think his shooting percentages will get better because he’ll have other guys to take some of the burden off.”

Boeheim relied heavily on five players last season — the high-scoring trio along with freshman forward Marek Dolezaj and 7-foot-2 junior center Paschal Chukwu. Chukwu, who hurt his back in mid-February and never fully recovered, is healthy again, though Howard is wearing a boot to protect an injury to his left leg sustained in preseason. He’s expected back before the season starts.

“(Before the injury) it was probably the best I’ve felt in my career,” Howard said. “I feel like my game has really come together. The only thing I worry about is getting back in condition. Right now I’m just taking it slowly, letting the young guys soak everything up. I’m excited, I’m ready.”

MORE: 9 largest arenas in college basketball | 6 programs ready to bounce back this season

Howard had a pretty steady junior year at point guard (14.4 points, 175 assists, 68 steals but 126 turnovers) in his first season as a starter, Brissett is an emerging star (14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds), and Dolezaj shot 53.7 percent from the field and found his niche late in the season.

Freshman shooting guard Jalen Carey, a four-star recruit, is getting more work in practice in Howard’s absence, while Buddy Boeheim is ready for his chance.

“I think I can come in and make smart plays for the team,” Buddy said. “Just toughness and being able to help our team win any way possible. Overall, I think I know what I need to do.”

This article was written by John Kekis from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

MORE: Andy Katz’s college basketball preseason power rankings | Big Ten predictions | Pac-12 predictions

Share.

About Author

Turner South Syndicate  is proud to publish SportsBuzzSource.com TSS is a group of common interest people coming together in the sports news world. Sports news has always been an evolving hobby of ours. We take pride in researching the latest breaking news and presenting stories to readers as a quick reference. Sources are from multiple outlets scoured by our highly enthused team of researchers. Presenting a navigational friendly website, we are dedicated to exhibit the latest stories in sports. Also, for mobile news check out our app, Sports Buzz Source, on Google Play Store. ​ Lastest app releases are Remind List+ and YoCelsi on iTunes. Remind List+ -- Record all your list in one place and get notifications on home screen. Check it out... ​ YoCelsi - Minimalist Weather and Local Sorm Conditions Social Browser - 3D iBrowser with integrated social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc...)

Comments are closed.