Beat writers predict women’s basketball season record, MVP and X-Factor

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first_img Published on November 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm A year after getting knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round, Syracuse needs to fill the void left by the departure of eight players, including program greats Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes. But, the Orange brings in five freshmen, include three five-star recruits, and has six transfers eligible to play. Our beat writers discuss the new-look Orange and offer their season predictions for record, Most Valuable Player and X-Factor ahead of SU’s season opener Friday against Morgan State at 2 p.m.Nick AlvarezGood Will Shooting Record: 23-6MVP: Gabrielle CooperX-Factor: DepthThis is an interesting year for Syracuse. What it loses in four starters, two of which were program greats, it gains in depth. Quentin Hillsman relied on a six-player bench last year, and it caught up with SU. This season, Hillsman said he wants to rotate 10 players consistently. He should be able to do that with an influx of freshman and now-eligible transfers. The Orange should improve upon last year, so long it doesn’t run into UConn again.Andrew GrahamGimme five!AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRecord: 21-8MVP: Gabrielle CooperX-Factor: ForwardsSyracuse lost a lot from a season ago, including program greats Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes. But this isn’t a rebuild. It’s a reload. SU and head coach Quentin Hillsman have three five-star freshman and six now-eligible transfers. Hillsman said Tuesday that freshman Amaya Finklea-Guity will be the starting center and raved about fellow five-star Digna Strautmane. Expect those two and transfer Miranda Drummond to make up the forward rotation, with some minutes from Desiree Elmore mixed in. Gabrielle Cooper will anchor the guards while transfers Isis Young and Jasmine Nwajei acclimate. The blend of youth and inexperience will be tough to watch at times, but talent-wise, this team is up there with the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Make it five-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for Q and co.Billy HeyenFountain of YouthRecord: 22-7MVP: Digna StrautmaneX-Factor: Point guardHead coach Quentin Hillsman raved about Strautmane earlier this week. Hers was the first name he brought up when asked about potential contributors, saying she’s been “fantastic” and can contribute at three positions. The 6’2″ freshman from Latvia was the No. 22 recruit in the 2017 class and averaged 16.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup. She has a smooth three-point stroke, good moves around the basket and length to protect the rim. While Gabrielle Cooper is the only returning starter, her role may not change much from last year. Someone with less experience but a lot of talent, like the five-star recruit Strautmane, could fill the leading role. And it’ll take someone seizing the reins of Hillsman’s fast system at point guard, whether it be transfer Isis Young from Florida or junior college transfer Tiana Mangakahia, to get the team pushing to its fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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