Michael Carter-Williams soared in last night’s 84-53 SU steamrolling of Long Beach State. MCW might be the only point guard in the country that looks like a 7-footer when he skies to the rim. The sophomore made it a mission to attack the bucket, his most effective game getting to the basket all season. MCW finished with 15 points and 10 assists. It was his second consecutive double-double, and said after the game he’s had triple-double on his mind the last couple of weeks. It’s games like this that show the wondrous development of his game in just one year.
Despite all this stellar play, there are a few reasons why it took Michael Carter-Williams a year to work himself into Jim Boeheim’s “Party of Nine” rotation. The questions about MCW being held back, or held down, last season are ludicrous. In one season his minutes have spiked from 10.3 per game to 31.7.
We can’t forget the depth from last year’s team. Boeheim had a fifth-year senior in Scoop Jardine, and the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft in Dion Waiters on his bench. It’s hard enough for a freshman to work himself into Boeheim’s rotation, especially with that combo a year ago. MCW didn’t play a minute in the tournament, and honestly probably shouldn’t. There was no need to rush the PG.
This year, Carter-Williams has learned to use his 6-5 frame to his advantage. Not only is he beating smaller guards off the dribble with a quicker first move, he’s using the length and the extra spring in his step to shield defenders while driving to the rim. This is the most impressive part of his game. It takes time to develop a game as unique as MCW’s. From day one this season he has felt this is his offense to run. Michael hasn’t had a problem challenging his teammates. He has 64 assists in his last six games. The consistency is what earns you solid minutes under The Per’fesser.
There have also been many times this season that MCW has tried to do too much on the floor. But his progression makes you smile from ear to ear. That’s what he’s shown more of during this brilliant stretch.
Jim Boeheim doesn’t hold players back. He develops them. Syracuse has its leader now. And it’s because MCW took the time to find his game and work at it. Just look at what Dion Waiters did in two years. He too, had trouble coping with Boeheim’s system. Orange Nation almost lost the superstar after his freshman year. It’s funny that Carter-Williams had a similar experience during the NCAA tourney in March questioning his minutes and how effective he could be at SU. One of the strongest quotes from Waiters after his Syracuse career was that Boeheim turned him “into a man.”
It’s all about progression. It’s the way he has always done it. Overreacting to MCW’s strong play right now and wondering if he should have played more a year ago means nothing. What matters now is that the future NBA PG is dominating the stat box. And more importantly, he’s leading SU on and off the court. That trust only comes with time.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald