Jim Boeheim won’t admit that the Orange have a big three.
“We have a team. There’s no big-three” he said after SU’s comprehensive win over Bucknell.
It’s understandable, especially from a college coach. I’m not even sure if Erik Spoelstra or Steve Kerr ever openly called their respective trios a ‘big-three’. Still, everyone knew that the Heat and the Warriors had them, until Golden State became a big-four. I’m not saying Syracuse has what those NBA title-winners had. But the Orange are built the same way.
Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard are delivering consistent results as the team’s top dogs.
Point Leaders by Game
Virginia- Elijah Hughes (14)
Colgate- Buddy Boeheim (17)
Seattle- Joe Girard (24)
Seattle- Elijah Hughes (22)
Bucknell- Buddy Boeheim (22)
Hughes, Boeheim and Girard account for nearly 60 percent of the Orange’s total points and 65 percent of team assists. They show a great ability to ride the hot hand. All three are extremely unselfish. All three pass, move without the ball and have a great stroke from outside. It is a thing of beauty, when clicking like it did against Bucknell and Seattle.
Girard has been outstanding. He has a confidence about him. He’s a natural leader. Everyone knew Girard can shoot, but he’s proven to be more than that. His ball handling and athleticism help him handle pressure and steady the offense. He is helping the team play faster, often pushing the ball in transition. If the jumper is on, he can take a scorers role.
The most talented scorer of the group, Hughes, is also leading the team in assists (5.0 per game). He has transformed himself from a spot-up shooter to an all-around point forward. Hughes hasn’t had a crazy scoring game yet, but it’s certainly coming. He looks extremely confident in his shooting and slashing. And if defenses bring an extra defender, Hughes is finding the open man.
Buddy Boeheim is still a 6′ 6″ sharpshooter with a quick release. That was the case last season, when he shot about 40 percent from three in league play. Buddy too has made improvements this summer. When defenders close out hard, Boeheim will drive by and pull up at mid-range. He has practically mastered the move and its made him even more dangerous.
This is a solid big-three. Not to say others don’t matter. Marek Dolezaj keeps the offense flowing and attacking. Bourama Sidibe is the leading rebounder. Quincy Guerrier can score off the bench. The whole point of having three players who can be relied upon for the hard stuff is so that role players can focus on what they’re good at.
I know what some of you have been thinking: weren’t Battle, Brissett and Howard a big-three? Last season’s core did indeed carry a heavy load. But they just didn’t feel like a proper big-three. It’s because they didn’t really play together. They were isolated talents. That offense never clicked. Hughes, Boeheim and Girard already look like they have more chemistry than Battle, Howard and Brissett ever had, and Syracuse is better for it.