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Syracuse Basketball Player Preview: Frank Howard

Frank Howard came into last season as the most experienced point guard Jim Boeheim had. Andrew White and John Gillon both had more college playing time, but no point guard had more Carrier Dome experience. This year, nobody who will get significant minutes — point guard or otherwise — has been in an SU uniform longer than Howard. He has been in and out of Jim Boeheim’s dog house throughout his career, and there’s no guarantee this year will be any different. Frank Howard has another chance this season to take over Syracuse’s starting point guard spot for good, but he also has one of the shortest leashes on the team.

Last season started the way Frank Howard had planned it. After a season in which the Orange had to abandon Kaleb Joseph and turn to Michael Gbinije to run the point, Orange Nation was ready for a true point guard again. Howard was that; in his freshman season he showed glimpses of outstanding passing off the bench. Early in the season, he brought those talents into a starting role.

In Syracuse’s first nine games, Howard averaged almost seven assists and less than two turnovers per game, an assist-to-turnover ratio of four. He even averaged eight points per game, a drastic improvement from 2016. Even though Syracuse wasn’t winning, it wasn’t Howard’s fault. He had three double-doubles in his 14 games as a starter. As Syracuse started its conference schedule three games tore Howard’s season apart and took him out of the starting lineup for the rest of the season. Those three games also cost Syracuse a bid in the NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse’s three worst losses last season — Georgetown, St. John’s and Boston College — were Frank Howard’s worst games of the season. Against Georgetown, he turned the ball over six times to go with only four assists. Less than a week later, he had two assists and four turnovers. On New Year’s Day, he opened ACC play with three assists and three turnovers in a loss to Boston College. That game was the final straw for Jim Boeheim. Howard played just one minute in the Orange’s next game against Miami (a win) and never started again. In the final 19 games of the season, Frank Howard played single-digit minutes in 10 of them. Andrew White and John Gillon took over as Syracuse’s guards and Frank Howard’s season might as well have ended in January.

The start of the 2017-18 season is déjà vu for Howard. He again has an opportunity to solidify himself as Syracuse’s starting point guard, but once again has a graduate transfer breathing down his neck who didn’t come to the Carrier Dome to ride the bench. Geno Thorpe started as a sophomore at Penn State before he stood out at South Florida last season. Now on his third school, he’s the one trying to take a starting spot away from his new best friend at SU:

Jim Boeheim doesn’t ask Frank Howard for much. He doesn’t need to score or lead this team as a junior, all Boeheim wants Howard to do is pass. Move the ball around the offense without giving it up, and you can play point guard at Syracuse (given you can play zone, too). Howard hasn’t done that with enough consistency to earn Boeheim’s trust, but he has shown he could be the best passer on this team if he cleans up his handles. Hopefully, half a season on the bench has taught him to hold onto the ball.

Posted: Nathan Dickinson

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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