“Greatness is on the way.”
That’s the main message that Syracuse Orange women’s coach Felisha Legette-Jack emphasized during her opening press conference. With the team set to kick off its season in about three weeks, the spotlight is now on Orange to return as a threat in the ACC.
In his remarks, Legette-Jack touched on the current roster, culture building and Orange’s expectations for this season. Here are the top five takeaways from Legette-Jack’s press conference on Friday.
Takeaway #1: Dyaisha Fair is a force to be reckoned with.
No one on the Orange holds more promise than what Dyaisha Fair could bring to the table. Joining forces from Buffalo to Syracuse, Coach Legette-Jack understands just how talented Fair is.
Fair ranked 25th on Athleticism Top 25 most intriguing players to watch in women’s college basketball. During her press conference, Legette-Jack claimed that she was among the top 10 in the country. Having worked with her on Buffalo bullsLegette-Jack says Fair is a unique player.
“Dyaisha is a special player because it’s hard to keep someone, you can’t really stop his movement,” Legette-Jack said. “His best games are when we play on the biggest stage. His story is not a book. It’s a film.”
Fair enters this season having scored the 4th most points per game in the 2021-22 season. At Orange’s Tip-Off event on Friday, Fair showed off his unique ability to get past defenders and attack the basket effectively in the team’s scrimmage game.
Fair has been Orange’s best addition over the summer. Alongside guard Teisha Hyman, the pair of guards will be nearly unstoppable on offense.
If Fair goes ahead, field production will be enjoyable and provide Orange with some much-needed wins.
Takeaway #2: This team is packed with talent.
After last season, Syracuse women’s basketball underwent a complete roster reset once coach Legette-Jack was hired.
The Orange will enter this season with just four returning players, eight transfers and two freshmen. The turnover on the roster is monumental, with Legette-Jack having practically built the team’s culture from scratch. Legette Jack knew it the moment she accepted the job.
“It’s very important that we understand the dynamics of what the foundation was really going to be,” Legette-Jack said.
Thanks to the eight players who have been transferred, Syracuse will actually have some depth that can step in when needed. Coach Legette-Jack said that with responsibility and selflessness, the team will be a scary product on the pitch this season.
“Our leaders are leading and the people who have to do their part are doing their part,” Legette-Jack said. “When we kind of forget what ‘me’ is and play that game and that purity, this team is just talented.”
Culture building was a critical point for Legette-Jack during preseason. She detailed how the team was able to come together over the summer, whether it was during practices or on bus rides to different events. She said the players were singing, laughing and, most importantly, buying.
“I feel like we’re really buying fun,” Legette-Jack said. “We definitely want to be the ACC champions, we want to go to the Final Four and we want to win it. All of these dreams are their dreams and my dreams, but through the process we want to enjoy them.
Takeaway #3: Orange will approach this season with an underdog mentality.
Sticking with the culture-building theme, Legette-Jack said this iteration of the Syracuse Orange is unique because of where it starts its season.
“To transfer, you have to be broke somewhere, whether you came with me from Buffalo or from somewhere else,” Legette-Jack said.
Looking at the squad, many players on the roster have faced constant adversity. Fair was one of the top scorers in the country but whose talents were not in the spotlight at Buffalo. Teisha Hyman was a bright spot for Syracuse last year but was overshadowed by the team’s poor performance. Many of the team’s players are looking to relaunch their careers with a new team.
Based on the energy in the press conference, the team enters this season with a chip on its shoulder. Coach Legette-Jack and the team all have something to prove this season.
For opponents, that could be a scary mentality to contend with on the pitch.
Takeaway #4: Defense, defense, defense.
We know the story with Orange last season: the defense was abominable.
Syracuse gave most points in the ACC in 2022. Focusing away from the stat sheet, the team lacked the effort and motivation to get saves. Legette-Jack said for this season she hopes her team will build confidence, resilience and hope to trust the process.
“Their story is going to be persistent and insistent through defense,” Legette-Jack said.
The defense will be aided by incoming transfers Olivia Owens, Asia Strong and Kyra Wood, among others. Compared to last season, Syracuse has a lot more size, versatility and energy to regress to the average and prevent opponents from scoring as a group.
How the defense fares against a competitive conference remains one of the biggest stories to watch this year.
Takeaway #5: Expectations are high. The character of the building is even higher.
Common theme at Legette-Jack’s press conference: The team has their eyes on the prize.
L’Orange enters this season with the intention of returning after a disappointing 2021-2022 season. During the press conference, Legette-Jack and the rest of their team seemed locked in, motivated and competitive.
This season will definitely be one to watch. Syracuse is armed with a talented coach, a deep roster filled with upside and a clear path to the NCAA Tournament.
If the press conference showed anything about what to expect this year, it’s that the team won’t go down without a fight.