It’s still early into the Jalen Carey experiment for Jim Boeheim. But so far, the returns have not been promising even though the athleticism is apparent. After a hot start to his freshman season, Carey cooled off considerably while his playing time dwindled. And early into his second season on The Hill, he is off to a slow start.
Granted Syracuse has played one meaningful game this season, and it was against one of the best defenses every year. What’s more concerning is his play in exhibition games against Carleton and Daemen. Carey scored a combined 15 points and turned the ball over five times. That’s the same issue that kept him off the court last season.
What’s surprising is his lack of scoring. In Madison Square Garden against UConn last season, Carey had six turnovers, but he shot 9-14 from the floor for 26 points. In a night where Syracuse was without Frank Howard, an inexperienced Carey played 38 minutes and almost led SU to victory.
Syracuse fans haven’t seen that player since then. But even though his overall play has plummeted, Carey still has flashes of the player he could become. He’s consistently one of the most athletic players on the floor and has the ability to drive by defenders and slash to the hoop. The outcome – you would think – would be a kick out to an open teammate on the wing or a crafty layup attempt.
Instead SU fans have come to expect Carey to fumble the dribble with a fast break going the other way.
It’s unclear why Carey has seemingly regressed so much since he’s stepped on campus, and what that means for his future. His length and quickness make him perfect physically to man the top of the 2-3 zone. His offensive potential is a great counter punch along with SU’s other guards shooting ability.
But if his play doesn’t improve, he could quickly find himself on the bench with Joe Girard or Brycen Goodine starting in his place. Carey’s sophomore season is a make-or-break year for the point guard. Will he become a star at SU and become a centerpiece of the offense, or will he be relegated to no more than an afterthought? Only time will tell as Orange fans desperately hope for the former.