Welcome to the first edition of our new Roundtable Series. Each week for the remainder of the summer, our contributing writers will answer a question regarding Syracuse athletics and the upcoming seasons. Which team will surprise you? What squad has the most potential? Which incoming recruit will make the greatest impact? You’ll find out all of that and more through Orange Slice Sports’ new Roundtable Series. Sit back and enjoy, my friends.
I have the highest expectations for the Syracuse Softball team. The team is coming off back-to-back Big East Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. The only big loss for the team is third baseman Hallie Gibbs who was a big bat for the Orange this season. However, the team has a freshman coming in who is expected to make an immediate impact offensively. Utility player Shanelle Harrell should bring some strong hitting to the team. Not to mention, Jenna Caira will still be in the circle. She is the most dominant pitcher in Syracuse history and is expected to have another solid season.
I have the lowest expectations for Syracuse Soccer. The Women's team hasn't had a winning record since the 2003 season. Megan Bellingham, who earned All-Big East Third Team honors her sophomore year, graduated. Luckily, that is the only big loss for the team. They earned just six wins last season and I expect a similar or slightly better performance this year. The men's team isn't much better with only a couple winning seasons in the past ten years. The bright side to the men's team is the fairly solid recruiting class they have coming in this fall.
I have the highest expectations for the Syracuse Basketball team. The team was bounced from the tournament in the second round (or third round by the new system) by Big East conference rival Marquette. The team's season-long inspirational phrase of "Unfinished Business" is still unfinished. Its time to back it up. The Orange are only losing one player from last year's active roster, Rick Jackson. Dashonte Riley also transferred to Eastern Michigan. Three top recruits are coming to the team next year and the rest of the team is still intact. C.J. Fair, Baye Moussa Keita, and even Dion Waiters showed some promising things from last season. They have each had a year in the league and they can only continue to improve as players. The only question I have about the team is Fab Melo who was what most would call a bust last year. Despite that I see a deep tournament run from this team.
I have the lowest expectations for the Syracuse Men's soccer team. The team posted only two wins last season, none of which came in Big East Play. After three decent years at Hartwick Senior Goalie Jeremy Vuolo came to Syracuse and had his worst year as a college goalie ending in a 1-10-5 record. Now the reigns appear to be passed to junior Ryan Jones, who has a 4-14 record as a goalie. One upside for the team is they have a bunch of new signees.Despite the new faces coach Ian McIntyre's second season as Syracuse head coach looks to have the same result as last year.
I have the highest expectations for the revitalized Syracuse Football team. Coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory, which included an 8-5 record and a win in the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Kansas St., the Orange will look to improve upon their surprisingly impressive 2010 campaign this fall. Offensive standouts Ryan Nassib and Antwan Bailey will return to put points on the board, while defensive standouts Phillip Thomas and Chandler Jones will keep points off of it. If the Orange can take care of their lesser opponents, stay stellar on the road, and win a few Big East home games this year, I expect a Big East championship from this team and a BCS birth.
I also have the lowest expectations for the Syracuse Soccer program. The men are coming off an abysmal 2-10-5 season while the women weren't much better at 6-9-5. Both teams have not had many winning seasons over the past ten years. Soccer is a low point for SU athletics, but hopefully the 2011-2012 school year will see Syracuse Soccer turn over a new leaf.
I have the highest expectations for Doug Marrone’s football squad. Following an 8-5 season, things are looking up. Now I’m not saying that they’ll go undefeated or even have the most successful SU team, but when you combine Marrone’s coaching and an extremely watered down Big East, a top 2-3 finish SHOULD be expected. This isn’t the Syracuse football of the last 8 or 9 years where fans are content with losing. Now that we’ve seen the potential, we want more. We EXPECT more.
This is where I may catch you by surprise. I see what y’all have been getting at, but for me, I can’t help but have the lowest expectations for the men’s basketball team. Just hear me out. First, the Orange still don’t have a good point guard. Scoop Jardine is simply not good enough to lead this team far in the tournament. He is erratic with the ball in his hands and not a strong decision-maker. Secondly, they lack a go-to scorer. Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche are good scorers, but their inconsistency last year was troubling. At the end of games, neither of them consistently stepped up and became “the man.” Being “the man” is as much about mentality as it is talent, so it’s not necessarily something you can improve on in the offseason. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings Cuse nation, but without a pure point guard and a go-to scorer, don’t expect greatness this year.
What are your thoughts? Comment below to argue with the staff!