Ryan Vespi and Murphy Foss
After a fairytale run the year before ended in the Final Four, Syracuse fans had a sense of excitement and hope coming into this season. Syracuse had gained some veteran transfer players in seniors Andrew White and John Gillon, as well as young talent in freshman Tyus Battle. However, it was not to be.
Early in the season Syracuse suffered several losses to teams outside of the AP top 100 and were not picking up wins against teams they normally beat. Fans started to get a little worried. “After Syracuse’s first couple losses I didn’t want to watch games anymore, I just became uninterested,” said freshman Will Davis.
As the season progressed and eventually started to wind down SU picked up some quality wins at the Dome against highly ranked teams such as Florida State, Pittsburgh, and Duke. However, they finished with an awful road record of 2-11, which would keep them out of the tournament on Selection Sunday. This angered many fans. “They got gypped, it’s absolute bull, we finished ahead of Wake Forest and beat them head to head, and that’s just one example,” said sophomore Tarky Lombardi. “I expected a National Championship like I do every year, so for them to not make the tourney was awful,” said sophomore Nolan Giblin. Syracuse was added to the NIT tournament since they didn’t qualify for the NCAA tourney.
Insult has been added to injury this offseason after losing a couple key leaders. In addition to the seniors like John Gillon and Andrew White III, sophomore Tyler Lydon has declared for the NBA draft and their heir to the men’s basketball coaching throne, Assistant Coach Mike Hopkins, took a job as head coach with the Washington Huskies.
In the summer of 2015, Boeheim announced that Hopkins, his longtime assistant, would take the reigns after Boeheim’s retirement. Hopkins had been waiting ever since. “I expected [that Hopkins would leave] since he’s been waiting for so long,” said senior Jake Sala.
This is a big blow to SU’s program since Boeheim had been planning to retire in the near future. This left SU with no one to take over, forcing them to extend Boeheim’s contract without a suitable replacement. “It sucks that Hopkins is leaving, he pulled in so many good recruits and now who knows what they’ll do,” said freshman Riley LaTray. SU must come up with a plan to find a new assistant, and soon. “I think they could hire someone not as qualified for now, then when Boeheim retires I think Hopkins will come back,” said Giblin.
Syracuse will be looking to bounce back next year and make a strong run deep into March. They will have redshirt freshman Matthew Moyer as well as a more experienced Tyus Battle, who could be one of the best players in the conference next year. “He’s going to be a leader on the team,” said Sala. Maybe those National Championship dreams will come true in the ‘Cuse.