While reading Mike Waters piece on the major questions the Syracuse basketball team will try and sort out when they begin practice later this week, I started thinking about what kind of rotation Coach Boeheim will use this year.
I've never seen DaShonte Riley or James Southerland play, and only seen brief clips of Brandon Triche, but this glaring lack of knowledge will not stop me from taking some wild guesses on who will see the floor - because that's what the internet was invented for - wild, unfounded speculation.
Anyway, here's how I think they start the year. Once the games start and Boeheim sees how guys perform under the bright lights, all bets are off.
Center - Azinze Onuaku, Rick Jackson, DaShonte Riley
PF - Rick Jackson, Wesley Johnson, DaShonte Riley
SF - Wes Johnson, Kris Joseph, Mookie Jones, James Southerland
SG - Andy Rautins, Scoop Jardine, Mookie Jones, James Southerland
PG - Brandon Triche/Jardine (toss up right now), Jardine/Triche, Rautins
The first thing that jumps about about this year's roster is the flexibility. Every player, with the exception of Onuaku, has the size and ability to play multiple positions.
If the team goes small, Wes Johnson can easily slide to the 4. For all I know, he could start the season there, however, I think Boeheim continues to start Jackson.
Kris Joseph can play the 4 in certain situations as well. He started strong last year and faded. His versatility and well rounded game will help this team out. I can see him being one of the first guys off the bench, with either Jackson taking a seat, or sliding over to the 5 to spell Arinze.
James Southerland has been billed as a shooter. If he can come off the bench and make some 3s, Boeheim could spot him some minutes. Other than that, he may not see the floor much this year.
The same could be said for Mookie Jones. His season ended early with an injury last year - he will need to show a more well rounded game to earn minutes at the 2 or the 3.
Barring injury or foul trouble, Rautins isn't coming off the floor much. He's a 5th year senior with a high basketball IQ, Boeheim trusts him and he can play the point in a pinch, or slide over to the 3 if the team goes small. Plus he's the only true 2 guard on the roster.
It goes without saying SU will need solid play from both Jardine and Triche, we'll know what we have with each of them sooner rather than later. Both will play significant minutes early, but it will be interesting to see which one is on the floor at the end of Big East games.
DaShonte Riley could be a very important piece of this year's puzzle. Besides Onuaku and Jackson, he's the only other true post player on the roster. He'll need to be able to give SU some solid minutes in Big East play, especially against teams with big front lines. He won't need to score, but he'll need to be a big body that can block some shots and hit the glass.