Syracuse basketball opened its 2012-13 season Friday with media day and Midnight Madness. Full practices begin on Saturday.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The season was new but the feeling was the same for Syracuse Orange men's basketball head coach Jim Boeheim Friday at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.
"Every year you get the same," Boeheim said in response to being asked how it felt to be back for his 37th straight year. "Its the same level of excitement, anticipation; we have to get through this day and the fun starts tomorrow when you get to practice.
"I am as ready to go as I can remember. When I am not ready to go then I wont be here."
For 12 minutes the 67-year-old with 890 career victories fielded questions about his squad that will need to make up for the loss of four key contributors: Guard Dion Waiters, center Fabricio Melo (both NBA first-round draft picks), forward Kris Joseph (a second-round selection) and point guard Scoop Jardine. The core helped SU win a school-record 34 games and make a run to the NCAA Tournament's Elite 8 where they lost to the Ohio St. Buckeyes, 77-70.
"You don't really," Boeheim responded when asked if its possible to replace a group of players with that kind of resume. "But I said, I think these guys have worked as hard as they can and are as ready as individually as they can be.
"As far as what kind of team they can be. There's no way of knowing that at this stage. Last year, we had so many veteran guys coming back. They had come off a successful season there was no reason not to think that they would be very successful at this stage of the year.
"This team is different. We lost our three primary scorers our defensive player of the year in the league. We've never had a team, that I can remember, lose this many guys who were such important parts of what we did. And if we did have a team that lost to even close to what this team did we certainly weren't picked in the top 20 the next year."
The reason for such a positive preseason position is because the Orange retooled with six returning players, who all played a role, even if it was small, in Syracuse's successful season last year. SU also added a four-star redshirt freshman, shooting guard Trevor Cooney, and a McDonald's All-American, center DaJuan Coleman.
"I think this team can be very good," said junior forward C.J. Fair, who's one of the six key returners. "A lot of people are sleeping on us this year, but that's something we use in our favor. I very confident in this team, I think we can go deep in the tournament and maybe even take it all the way."
Fair, a 6'8, 215-pound small forward, will be one of three players who will need to pick up his production if the Orange are to overcome the talent lost from the early departures of Waiters and Melo. The others are sophomore big man Rakeem Christmas and sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has already been pegged as one of the top 50-best players in the country by CBS Sports.
"We have a lot of potential," Carter-Williams said. "During the workouts we all worked hard everyday. Our workouts were a lot different than last year. They were a lot more intense this year.
"We just done a lot more in the offseason this year than we did last year, so I think that will show."
Other key contributors will be senior point guard Brandon Triche and senior forward James Southerland. Both will be asked to replace the leadership of Jardine and Joseph.
"I think I am one of the leaders of the team," said Triche when asked if he would consider this year's squad his team. "Personally, I want to produce a lot more to win games. It all depends how the season is going, but I'd like to think that as a senior its me and James' team and its going to be Michael Carter-Williams team as well (because he's the point guard)."
No matter how Syracuse gets it done this season -- new guys pushing the old guys or the old guys leading the new guys -- this should be another successful season under the leadership of Boeheim, who's entering a completely different season but feeling as good as he always has.