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Syracuse Bloodied by Georgetown, Carter-Williams Is Huge Concern for March

Kevin Rivoli/AP Photo

In a game of massive historical significance, Syracuse was uninspired, sloppy, and downright ugly offensively. The 57-46 loss to Georgetown was as difficult to swallow as any loss in recent memory. The Hoyas not only closed down the Carrier Dome in their final Big East tour stop there, the Orange put up one of the most pitiful home point totals in history.

One of the key reasons the attack was atrocious Saturday was Michael Carter-Williams. Earlier this season I wrote a piece on the potential lottery pick, complimenting his impressive array of talents. During the non-con schedule he was phenomenal. But over the last two months MCW has been exposed, and SU fans should be worried come tourney time. It’s late February and unless Jim Boeheim can find a magic switch, his point guard is noticeably flawed.
Carter-Williams can be a very poor decision maker, which is the most important mental attribute for a point guard. It’s not time to abandon ship. MCW is still one of the ten best point guards in the country and his skill set fits well with Syracuse’s style of play. He’s a good defender. He rebounds. He’s a leader.
“Every loss hurts. They beat us on our home court, and it is the first time we have lost at home in a long time. It definitely hurts.” – MCW post game 
Offensively, Carter-Williams can be dynamic. He attacks the rim. He looks for and often finds his teammates in transition. He’s not afraid of the big moment. However, he also does some incredibly stupid things far too consistently. He gets caught in the air. He misses defenders who step in front of his passes. This bi-polar play is driving Boeheim crazy, and eventually will do the same to his NBA coach.He’s reminiscent of the Knicks’ J.R. Smith. He’ll hit some of the toughest shots you’ll see. He takes some absolutely terrible shots. You live with them because he can bail you out of a tough spot, and is nearly unstoppable when he’s on. In the end, the good outweighs the bad.

“I know we were excited for the game. It was not our best game.” – MCW

There are obvious differences between Smith and Carter-Williams. MCW’s bad decisions are often bad passes, not bad shots. Those passes lead to live ball turnovers, aka basketball death. These decisions are magnified because the sophomore is the starting point guard, and the Orange has no backup. Putting Brandon Triche at the point takes him off the ball, and that’s where he’s at his best – roaming, scoring and rebounding.

A point guard has to know when to shoot or pass. He has to decide when to attack or pull back. It’s about reading the flow of the game and being in charge of it. Carter-Williams struggles at all of this. Otto Porter killed SU Saturday night for 33 of the Hoyas’ 57 points. The 19-year old picked his spots and was aggressive in finding the bucket. Amazingly, he’s almost two years younger than Carter-Williams, yet has far more experience averaging nearly 30 minutes per game last year.
“Sometimes you try too hard. When you are down points, and time is winding down, you try to make that play to get us going, but it just does not work out.” – Brandon Triche post game
MCW will still be a lottery pick. He should leave early for the same reason Wes Johnson had to. While he’s only a sophomore, he’s already 21 years old. Being old for your class is a negative on your draft profile. It’s also blatantly obvious Michael could use another year in school to improve his game. Yet a team will fall in love with his potential and draft him in the top 10.

As for the games he plays before that for SU, just hold your breath and hope the good outweighs the bad.

Posted: Craig Hoffman
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