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Big Men Foul Trouble Is Syracuse’s Demise

“That’s number five. Bourama Sidibe fouls out of the game.” How many times have we heard that this season? It seems like it is happening every game and, honestly, it is. Sidibe has fouled out seven times already this season and in the past four straight games. Take a look at the breakdown of how many fouls the big man has racked up this year:

# OF FOULSOCCURANCYRATE
000%
100%
214%
3417%
41250%
5729%

Wow. Those numbers are flabbergasting. If you define “foul trouble” as having three of more fouls, which most people do, Sidibe has been in trouble in every single game this year except for one. That one game was a blowout against Bucknell when he only played 19 minutes. Sidibe is averaging 4.04 fouls per game, which is the second highest mark for an individual player in the entire country. The junior obviously has a serious fouling problem.

The thing is, however, Sidibe isn’t the only Syracuse big man that loves to hack. His front-court counterpart, Marek Dolezaj, also fouls a lot, to say the least. Dolezaj has been in foul trouble in 15 games and fouled out in seven this year. He, too, is in the top-50 for most fouls per game in the country. 

But wait, that’s not all! The backup big, Quincy Guerrier, has had his fair-share of foul trouble this year as well. The freshman has had three or more fouls in more than half of the games and has fouled out three times.

These numbers have been a problem for Syracuse. With his big men getting in trouble each game, Jim Boeheim has been limited with what he can do down the stretch. His lineups change and he doesn’t have much say to it. These new lineups force the Orange to play small-ball, which may not be the best strategy at the time, or force inexperienced freshmen in like Jesse Edwards, who cannot handle the pressure of a close game (ignoring the outlier game against Wake Forest). Either way, foul trouble cripples Syracuse both on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive. 

Foul trouble has become an epidemic for Syracuse and other teams know it. Opposing squads go right at Sidibe, Dolezaj and Guerrier because they know they will foul and get in trouble. It’s an easy way to get them out of the game and force Boeheim’s hand. It’s pretty simple– if the Orange want to finish the season strong and make a tournament push, the first thing they need to do is address the foul problem.

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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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