Syracuse women's basketball has had quite the offseason. Eleven players have left the program through the transfer portal and one turned pro. However, the Orange added five incoming freshmen and four players from the portal. Despite all of that turnover, head coach Quentin Hillsman is not concerned.
"The main thing for us is we're in a good place," Hillsman said. "We're not in a panic mode. I think that's what's happening right now with this portal across the country, it's becoming this thing where if you have nobody in the portal, then you're program's fantastic. If you've got people in the portal, you're in trouble. We're not in that state.
"One thing about us is, back in 2016 when got to the championship game, we understood what we needed to do and the kind of players that we needed to get there. We just want to get to a place to where it's our standards. For us, it's about being athletic, it's about wanting to come in every day and work, and more importantly just wanting to be here. That's all we've been talking about from day one. Having players here who want to be here. The transfer portal has allowed people to make some decisions to move on."
The transfer portal, along with the NCAA's ruling that allows players to transfer once with immediate eligibility, has completely changed the way programs operate. Roster turnover will be much more significant than in years' past. But just as it make take away, the portal also gives.
"What I think the portal has done is two things," Hillsman said. "It gives student-athletes opportunities to pursue other options if they don't feel that they're getting what they need at a certain program. And I'm okay with that. But also, too, it's allowed coaches that are losing players to the portal and going to other universities, a chance to sign some kids that can help you win and play your way. It's okay if you want to make a decision to move on, but also it's okay for us as coaches to go to the portal to get some players to help you win and continue your standards."
The question that everyone wants to know, still, is why. Coach Hillsman gave his thoughts and some insight into how thought discussions went.
"I just feel there's different reasons," Hillsman said. "Players that wanted to go pursue a graduate degree at places that had what they wanted to pursue a graduate degree in. Players that went on to play that they had opportunities to play in different regions. You have to understand the, most conversations don't go where they sit down and have a laundry list of reasons why they're leaving.
"They come in, we talk, we move on. Some don't talk. They just say, 'hey, I want to move on and go to a different situation, different school.' That's why to me, there really aren't complicated discussions and adversarial conversations."
What about the fact that several players are going to ACC schools that Syracuse will have to face next season? Hillsman believes that shows the strength of the Orange program.
"They're going to some really good schools," Hillsman said. "They're going to schools in our conference. That's a compliment to us. Everybody wants our players so that means we've got to be doing something right."
While the offseason has certainly been active and the transfer portal adds an extra layer to it, Hillsman is not changing his program philosophies.
"No," Hillsman said. "We're going to to continue to fight to maximize everything we can out of our players. We're going to continue to fight for all the players on our team to meet our standards and have productive careers here."
The reason for Hillsman's approach is his confidence in what Syracuse has accomplished in prior seasons and the roster outlook going forward.
"At the end of the day, we have very good players, we're going to have very good players on our roster," Hillsman said. "We've never not been successful here. We've underperformed in some years, but we've never not been a success and we're going to continue to be that way."