The Syracuse Orange happen to be a superb basketball program with a legendary head coach. Depending on how you feel about the program, one could manufacture the argument Jim Boeheim has done an admirable, but not great job adjusting to life in the ACC.
That’s a conversation for a different time. In fact, it’s one of little actual importance, as it’s not as if the Orange have dropped off the face of the planet. They remain an above-bar program, still acquiring pairs of those elusive NCAA Tournament dancing slippers season after season… mostly.
Syracuse had almost failed in that specific regard for a second straight year last season, finishing with an overall record of 23-14, receiving a polarizing invitation to the Big Dance. Even with Boeheim leading the Orange to a Final Four just a couple of seasons ago, had Syracuse failed to land in the tournament for a second straight season, the Zone is for Cowards faithful would have been as loud as ever.
Ranking 317th in the nation last season in points per game (66.6), Syracuse relied heavily on forward Oshae Brissett for offense likely before he was truly ready for such a role. Removing the rest of the team from this discussion, placing Brisset in a vacuum, what awaits the Orange this season will rest heavily on how much he’s developed over the last few months.
The counting-stats suggest he was ready for that large role on offense. Averaging 14.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in his first season with the Orange, Brissett was a more than admirable player. No one will claim otherwise. Everything being equal, though, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He has ample room for improvement.
Oddly enough, this is a silver lining in an otherwise gloomy could, as it highlights a chance for sincere growth for both the player and team.
Last season, Brissett had a true shooting percentage under 50 percent, with an effective field goal rate at a lowly 41 percent. Fancy-math can often be misleading, but those are objectively poor numbers. Equally as important, he offset some of his iffy efficiency numbers by hitting 33 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Those came in some volume too, as he attempted 4.5 per game.
These are all, even the poor efficiency numbers, virtuous attributes given the context.
Looking at it through a positive lens, Brissett managed to be an impacting player ahead of schedule and without doing so in ways the majority of players manage to do it. Generally, if a player is to create an impact, he has to do so by being wholly efficient in whatever areas of his game are considered his best. This is why such much attention is put on metrics involving ratios and adjusted percentages.
Beyond a competent defender (not even grading a Syracuse curve, either), the 6-foot-8 youngster was asked to carry a burden he wasn’t yet fully equipped to handle, and while he never fully succeeded, he didn’t fail either. He did wonderful. Better than magnificent, honestly.
In a way, he was asked to be a fireman for a famed fire company, but one no longer operating with the mainstays that aided in acquired the aforementioned fame. When heading to his first call, as the fire burned with the fury of 1,000 suns, he didn’t necessarily put it out all by his lonesome, but he handled himself well as nozzleman number two when he should have been just one of the workers holding the hose.
Analogies or something. Likely something, but semantics are for lunatics.
It helps everything about him projects for growth as well. He’s athletic, has the right frame and had shown growth over the course of his first season playing Division I basketball. Moreover, he has a better than average handle for a person his size. Oshae Brissett is coming up roses when talking about how well the situation aligns for him to have a monumental leap in development.
It’s an obvious note, but we’re going to say it anyway: Oshae Brissett didn’t land on Syracuse’s campus as a refined, finished product. He won’t leave as one, either.
Brissett will, however, enter each new game played a better player than the one before. Yes. Yes. Cliches and tropes and narratives. All that jazz. Still doesn’t make it untrue. Hooray, double-negatives!
And yet, even with talented teammates around him and a Hall of Fame coach on the bench, Brissett is going to enter this season with even more expectations and burdens placed on him than the voyage before. Unlike 12 months ago, though, his shoulders are likely to be better structured to handle such an ask.
Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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