Many would suggest coach Jim Boeheim has four point guards at his disposal for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Those four would include Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams, and Dion Waiters. However, Dion is really a 2-guard, so we will leave him off this lost for purposes of the point guard preview. Therefore, we will look at each player individually. Scoop Jardine
Scoop is your unquestioned starter, and leader of this team. Last year, he averaged 12.5 points and 5.9 assists per game. This while shooting 41.5% from the field, and 35.7% from down town. He also had a 2/1 assist to turnover ratio. Good numbers last year, but yet 'Cuse fans vented frustration with him more than maybe any other player on the team. The reason was untimely turnovers, questionable decision making during critical points of the game, and poor shooting. His shooting percentage, 41.5%, leaves much to be desired from your leader. That number needs to go up this year. His free throw shooting also needs to improve. He shot only 66.4% last season, including misses down the stretch of games. All of that said, he was not nearly as bad as most fans would suggest. He has a quick first step off the dribble, and is great on the fast break. He has very good court vision and makes the right pass on fast breaks and when penetrating the lane. Scoop also has ice water in his veins. Whether he made the right decision or not, whether he forced shots late in games or not, he wanted the ball with the game on the line. You want that in your leader. And Scoop is undoubtedly our leader. Many don't know this, but Scoop also sets the zone and makes the defensive calls. He's very good at that, and should continue to make the vaunted 2-3 zone successful yet again this year. Look for Scoop to take another step in his development this year and have a great season for the Orange. His experience playing with the national team over the summer should pay huge dividends. By all accounts, he was very good there. If Scoop can improve his shooting to at least the 45%-46% range, and his free throw shooting to around 80%, it makes this team scary good. Cut down on late game turnovers and poor decision making, and we have the one thing Syracuse struggled with last year. Closing games out and making plays in tight ball games late. Scoop has the potential to have a special year, and he's been working his butt off to make sure that happens. Brandon Triche
While Brandon starts at the shooting-guard position, he plays with a point guard's mentality and will often play significant minutes at that spot. Remember, it was only two years ago he was the starting point guard on a team that was #1 in the country, a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and an Arinze Onuaku injury away from a final four/national championship game birth. His physical strength poses a major problem for opposing guards. He's difficult to stop when he is aggressive and attacks the basket. Brandon's shooting went down from two years ago last year, and that needs to go back to where it was. Two years ago he shot 50% from the field, including 40% from three. Last year he regressed to 42% and 33% respectively. He was the only real consistent outside threat last season, which was a major weakness on the team. While there are concerns that will be an issue this year, Scoop improving his shooting combined with Brandon's continued development should help alleviate that concern. In my opinion, Brandon has the talent and skill set to be the best player on the team. He's a matchup nightmare for any team, and when he's aggressive, is VERY difficult to stop. A prime example was during the Louisville game last year, with Syracuse in a huge hole, he single handedly brought the Orange all the way back and nearly won the game. He was aggressive, shot well, and played a fantastic game. I like what I saw from him in the first exhibition game. The biggest hurdle for Brandon is between the ears. If he plays with the confidence his skill set would suggest he should have, look out. An underrated part of Brandon's game is his defense. He frequently jumps passing lanes and creates turnovers. His quick feet allow him to rotate in the zone to prevent open shots and contest passes. At 6'4, he's a perfect fit for the top of the zone. Michael Carter-Williams
None of the freshmen from this year's recruiting class is more intriguing, in my opinion, than Michael Carter-Williams. He's a long, 6'5 point guard, who is quick off the dribble, has great court vision, is an excellent passer, and a decent shooter. His height and length suggests he should be a perfect fit for the zone. Despite the experience and talent of Scoop and Brandon, it will be very difficult to keep Carter-Williams off the floor. He possesses a rare combination of basketball IQ, exceptional athletic ability, and extreme coachability. By the time he's done here, look for Boeheim to mold him into one of the best point guards Syracuse has ever had. His potential is limitless, and his talent should have Orange fans dreaming big. His role this year will be relegated to the second guard off the bench (behind Waiters), but you should see 10-15 minutes per game from him. Don't be surprised if fans start clamoring for him should Scoop's late turnovers continue. Boeheim has not been shy when talking about this kid's talents over the summer. And usually, when coach talks someone up, he's right.
The Orange are very blessed to have multiple options as their floor general. All three possess great size and athleticism which mold perfectly to the 2-3 zone, and up-tempo, fast breaking offense Syracuse loves to run. As we all know, success in college basketball is largely derived from great guard play. Syracuse is as deep and talented as anyone in the nation.