3 takeaways from Syracuse men's basketball media day

SU head coach Jim Boeheim and his players discussed the upcoming 2016-17 campaign with the media on Friday.

The Syracuse University men’s basketball team hosted its annual Media Day on Friday, with SU head coach Jim Boeheim and his players discussing the upcoming season. SU will face Indiana (PA) in an exhibition game at the Carrier Dome on Nov. 1 to open the 2016-17 campaign. Here are some of the things we learned Friday.

Photo: Xiang Wei

Syracuse women's basketball begins 2016-17 with championship aspirations.

Tyler Lydon will play three different positions for SU

Lydon, a sophomore forward, was a major contributor on the Orange team that made an unexpected run to the Final Four a season ago. As a freshman, he averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds over 37 games, while shooting 40.5 percent from behind the arc.

Boeheim said at Media Day on Friday that Lydon is most likely going to start at small forward for the Orange.

But, Boeheim added that Lydon will slide up and play power forward, or even center, depending on who he is sharing the court with. Lydon’s ability to shoot the ball from 3-point range as a frontcourt player could open up driving lanes for Syracuse’s guards.

The Orange will utilize its depth  

Syracuse was thin last year at all positions. Boeheim’s rotation featured only seven players, five of whom played more than 30 minutes per game. That won’t be the case this year.

Despite losing its starting backcourt— Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije —to graduation and forward Malachi Richardson, who departed SU for the NBA draft after just one season, Syracuse’s team is much deeper than the 2015-16 version. Boeheim said at Media Day that he expects to play nine or 10 players regularly and that a deeper rotation will allow the Orange to press more often, if the situation calls for it.

Sophomore Frank Howard and freshman Tyus Battle—a top-50 recruit from New Jersey—could fill the void in the Orange backcourt following the departures of Cooney and Gbinije.

Transfers will make a major impact on both sides of the ball for Syracuse

SU added three players to its roster this season via transfer. Guards John Gillon and Andrew White III each will play their final year of eligibility with the Orange, while sophomore Paschal Chukwu will be eligible for Syracuse after transferring from Providence last season. Boeheim praised all three at Media Day on Friday and each is expected to make a major impact for SU.

White averaged 16.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season while at Nebraska. He knocked down 41.2 percent of his 3-pointers in 2015-16 and should be a go-to scorer for Syracuse immediately.

Gillon, a quick point guard who transferred from Colorado State, averaged 13.2 points per game last season. Boeheim spoke about the impact of Gillon’s speed and he should spearhead SU’s transition offense.  

Meanwhile, the 7’2'' Chukwu could be a force in the middle of Syracuse’s zone. He can block shots and his length could force opponents to alter their shot attempts. According to Boeheim, Chukwu has improved on the offensive end. He said that the center has converted around the rim better in practice. 

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