Most teams would suffer after losing their leading scorers and rebounders in one offseason, but Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange will potentially be even better than in 2009-10. Gone from the squad are ultra-versatile wing Wes Johnson, who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, long-range shooter Andy Rautins and big man Arinze Onuaku who gave the team tremendous rebounding and an efficient scorer around the rim. Replacing Johnson is Kris Joseph, who probably could have won the award for the nation's best 6th man had there actually been such an award. Joseph should improve upon Johnson's defense on the baseline of Boeheim's 2-3 zone with his athleticism and length, but he will not be as strong of a perimeter threat as Wes Johnson this past season. Replacing Onuaku is a two-part job for returning starter Rick Jackson and incoming freshman, Fab Melo. Jackson is a 6'9" lefty with great footwork in the low post and a soft touch. He began to assert himself much more down the stretch last year and will certainly be the team's main option down low. Melo is a 7-foot center who has been working hard to prepare his body for the rigors of Big East basketball. He has dropped 30 pounds from his frame as he conditions and lifts weights. He can pass the ball as well as Jackson and also step out to knock down the 12-foot jump shot as well. Don't forget, he's a 7-footer with length and increasing athleticism who will be a great defensive force captain-ing Boeheim's zone.
Replacing Rautins, a veteran starter for the past several years will be slightly more difficult. Returning guards, Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche are talented and solid ball-handlers, but neither's perimeter game is very strong. Rautins was dangerous because he was a threat from 30-feet and in. He could force opposing coaches to call off their zone or he could spread the court, giving room for Johnson and Joseph to slash and Jackson and Onuaku to operate down low. Freshman Dion Waiter will have a good opportunity to play major minutes this winter as the lead guard off the bench.