Over/Under: 142.5 Bet to Make: Over
To this point, Syracuse has losses to South Carolina, Wisconsin, UConn and Georgetown. While Boeheim has seemed to get more and more grumpy over the years, this year seems to be different. He is straight up disappointed, and he is not hiding it either. At each post game presser he has been ripping these kids to shreds. Do they deserve it? Yes. But keep it in the locker room Jim. It is of no help to embarrass them to their classmates, the media, the school, and their family.
Frank Howard, the sophomore point guard, is worthy of most of the blame lately (according to Boeheim). After the Georgetown game, Boeheim was particularly harsh: “I don’t have any options. He’s got to play better. If he doesn’t play better, we’re not going to win.” Howard had five turnovers and seemed to have no urge to shoot the ball. He would drive at the hoop and defenders knew a pass was coming every time. After the plays, Howard would look over at Boeheim like a puppy ready to cry. Boeheim’s response seemed to only make Howard feel worse. Two weeks ago he was the one player living up to expectations on the team posting double doubles. Now, Frank Howard’s confidence is as low as possible.
This game was not his fault, in the slightest, though. Syracuse still should have won by a reasonable margin even with the poor performance by Howard. The team could not convert on free throws (going 14-25), box out on defense- allowing too many points off of offensive rebounds; and stop Georgetown offensively. If Tyler Lydon shoots 12-13 that should be an automatic win, no questions asked. The loss was not on Howard.
The finger of blame can be pointed across the entire team (besides Lydon), including Boeheim, who only played Tyus Battle for 12 minutes, while playing John Gillon for 37. Gillon shot 4-14 from the field, including many out of control layups, including one that led to a charge call late in the second half. Giving Howard a break would allow him to gain his confidence by knocking down jumpers from the elbow, just as he was earlier this season.
In the game versus Eastern Michigan tonight, Frank Howard is not going to completely flip the switch, but expect the others around him to. Eastern Michigan is a high paced team that loves to put up points. Syracuse will thrive on this fast play and will finally become comfortable taking a shots. Lydon will show up once again and Tyus Battle will get more minutes.
Now is Syracuse’s time to come together as a team and grow upon these heartbreaking losses. Their road to the Final Four will start here. If there is any time to turn it around, it is tonight at 7 PM in the Carrier Dome.
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By Mike DiBiase Photo Credit: Rich Barnes-USA Today Sports