Published on November 4, 2018 at 8:14 pm Comments Last season, Syracuse received the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and rattled off three wins in five days to make the Sweet 16. This season, the expectations are higher from the start. The Orange are a consensus top-25 team across all major rankings and return all five starters, along with Elijah Hughes being eligible to play after sitting out last season.Here’s what our beat writers think the Orange will accomplish this season.Charlie DiSturcoReady for takeoffRecord: 24-7MVP: Tyus BattleX-Factor: OffenseA year removed from a Sweet 16 appearance, Syracuse returns all five of its starters — including star Tyus Battle, who’s been working on his shot all offseason. Tack on the fact that transfer Elijah Hughes and freshmen Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim will work into the rotation in 2018, and this SU team is ready to take that next step. It’s very rare to have a team both this experienced and deep in college basketball. While Syracuse was a very solid defensive team last year, it struggled offensively. That’s where the new additions will play a role. Hughes and Boeheim add another facet to the offense with their 3-ball — the Orange shot 31.8 percent from 3 as a whole — and Carey is a versatile point guard. There’s a lot to love about this Syracuse team, and if the SU offense can put it all together, they have the potential to make a lot of noise in the NCAA Tournament once again.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMatthew GutierrezFive-headed monsterRecord: 23-8MVP: Tyus BattleX-Factor: The BigsAll five starters back, quick guard off the bench, stellar 2-3 zone, finally some depth, blah, blah, blah. The last time SU was this hyped? Two years ago, and we all know how that season panned out. I look forward to seeing how Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard develop not so much in their ability to score — we saw them do that last season — but in how they engage their teammates. That’s the key, because we learned a year ago that three scorers aren’t enough to be consistent. Plus, can the bigs pose more of a threat in the paint? Can Syracuse generate more production off the pick-and-roll? Keep an eye there. Nonetheless, the Orange shouldn’t be overlooked with this much talent and depth. There’s a potential for a deep run come the Big Dance.Billy HeyenThe boys are backRecord: 25-6MVP: Tyus BattleX-Factor: Oshae BrissettFor a few spring months, the outlook of this season hung in the balance. Tyus Battle was involved in the NBA Draft process. But he came back. Battle should lead the Orange in scoring for the second-straight year, and Jim Boeheim expects increased depth to help SU play faster. But the difference between good and great will come down to Oshae Brissett. Does he settle in right around 15 points and nine rebounds a game, like last year? Or has he grown into a top-10 player in the ACC, someone who makes 35-plus percent of his 3-pointers and challenges to be an NBA lottery pick in June? Teams with one star — think Ben Simmons at LSU, or Markelle Fultz at Washington — rarely become memorable. Teams with two, like Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick for the 2003 national champs, can be special. If Battle and Brissett both have grown, that’s exactly what this Syracuse team could be. Facebook Twitter Google+
For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and other NBA stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant Another question for the high-energy Lakers, who are accustomed to feeling at home even when they’re away, feeding off fan support in every NBA city: How will they handle playing without spectators?“I don’t know how we can play a game without our fans,” Dwight Howard on a Zoom conference with reporters last month. “I don’t know how anybody could. I think it might be different for fighting, boxing and stuff like that. But for basketball, that’s like the energy. We feed off that. We feed off the crowd. Especially at home. But everywhere is at home for us. When we’re hearing ‘Ko-be! Ko-be!’ or whatever we’re hearing, it’s kind of like they give us more energy. It’s like no matter what’s going on, we have those people behind us. So to be playing games and stuff like that, it would be hard.” Video: What LeBron James said about Jacob Blake … ‘Black people in America are scared’ Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error As 22 NBA teams prepare to restart their engines July 31, L.A.’s two-pronged championship chase picks up anew — in accordance with a wildly unprecedented plan that’s being unfurled in the midst of the national uprising happening during a global pandemic.“Basketball offers no vaccine, no cure,” Paul George said as he narrated a video from the Clippers’ addressing all that’s happening in the United States. “Only an example of teamwork, of togetherness.”But Matt Barnes, a former Laker and Clipper turned prolific basketball commentator, suggested there are members of both L.A. squads who feel uncomfortable with the idea of playing while the nation is embroiled in protests over racism and police brutality. Barnes said in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ “Dunk Bait” that “there are some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play and some don’t want to play.”Nonetheless, the NBA board of governors and the players association gave their approval last week to a return-to-play proposal that set in motion the resumption of the season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. SEEDINGWithout real home-court advantage to play for (save, possibly, for some creative incentives that could reproduce the advantage for teams “hosting” playoff series), the eight seeding games will be all about jockeying for matchups.But while New Orleans fights for the eighth and final seed and the Rockets try to avoid slipping into seventh and ending up with a first-round date with the Clippers, L.A.’s pair of contenders will play to maintain their position atop the heap.When the season was suspended, the 49-14 Lakers had won eight of 10 games and were the only team in the Western Conference to have clinched a postseason berth, ensuring the end of their six-season playoff drought on March 7 with a resounding 113-103 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks.As the Clippers left things, they’d won seven of eight games and held the second seed, at 44-20 overall — 5 ½ games behind the Lakers in the standings and 1 ½ ahead of the Denver Nuggets.OPPONENTS REMAININGWho will the Clippers and Lakers play?For the eight games ahead of the playoffs, every team will pick up its schedule where they left off. When a game comes up against a team that isn’t one of the 22 invited to Orlando, or against a team that’s already played its final eight games, they’ll skip over that opponent and move on to the next.The Lakers are one of four teams — along with Miami, Orlando and Portland — whose remaining schedule won’t accommodate eight games by the conclusion of their schedule. The league conceivably will fill in those teams’ final games by pitting them against one another, although that’s not been determined officially.So the Lakers’ schedule will look like this: Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz, Jazz, Raptors, Pacers, (and possibly the Trail Blazers, Heat or Magic).The Clippers’ seeding schedule: Nets, Pelicans, Mavericks, Nuggets, Suns, Nets, Pacers, Thunder.PRESSING QUESTIONSFor the Clippers, it’s health, always health.They’d played only 11 games this season with a fully healthy lineup, and they lost only one of those contests — to the Lakers. The Clippers managed to stay successfully afloat despite using 29 starting lineups and the fact that neither Kawhi Leonard (knee) nor Paul George (shoulders) was totally healthy entering the season.The Clippers were making it a point to do everything possible to protect their stars’ health ahead of an anticipated playoff push, including keeping Leonard out of one game of every back-to-back set as part of his treatment for an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee. The long, unexpected layoff should should bolster the health of Leonard and George, although there’s risk in ramping up quickly after not having played a game in months.There’s also the matter or incorporating new addition Joakim Noah, who was acquired March 9 on what was to have been a 10-day contract: “There are certain individuals that this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit (for), and Jo is one of them for sure,” coach Doc Rivers said on a Zoom session with reporters during the hiatus. “He’s gotten a chance now to get healthy and to get in shape. That’ll be a factor for us.”For the Lakers, there’s the question about whether they might bring back DeMarcus Cousins, whom they signed last summer before he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and later waived to make space for Markieff Morris.With the NBA reportedly working on plans that will permit teams to replace players in the event of positive coronavirus tests or serious injuries while they finish the season in the Orlando bubble, it’s likely that rosters will expand. With extra time off to rehab, could Cousins be available to give the Lakers the stretch 5 they’re otherwise missing?Related Articles Photos: Lakers defeat Trail Blazers in Game 4 of first-round playoff series On Mamba Night, the Lakers make short work of Blazers to take 3-1 series lead Starting with eight seeding games per team in Orlando, the first-place Lakers and second-place Clippers will try to recapture the momentum they’d built before March 11, when the league slammed on the brakes in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.The seeding games will set up a play-in tournament set for Aug. 16 and 17, according to the Athletic’s Shams Charania, who also reported Monday that the first round will commence Aug. 18, followed by the second round Sept. 1, the conference finals Sept. 15 and then, with Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Sept. 30.