After it was announced that Jalen would undergo hand surgery and miss 8-10 weeks, with the possibility of redshirting, Howard Washington’s role skyrocketed. Now, he’s Syracuse’s backup point guard and the veteran leader of the second unit. Who knows how much playing time Jim Boeheim will delegate to Washington. But after Joe Girard’s struggles against Oklahoma State, 3-11 shooting with five turnovers, it makes sense to give Washington minutes every game.
One of Washington’s biggest attributes is his experience. Along with Elijah Hughes and Bourama Sidibe, Washington’s been on the roster longer than anyone else. So he’s comfortable in the 2-3 zone, and managing the offense.
Washington has played less than 200 minutes at Syracuse. Of course last season he had a stroke which stopped him from walking on the court for all but 10 minutes. So he doesn’t have nearly as much playing time as other juniors. But if he doesn’t start to rack up minutes this season, when will he?
Washington showed promise his freshman season, and he’s been solid this year as well. He’s not going to be a spark plug shooter off the bench like Boeheim was last year. But Washington can run the offense, find the open man without turning the ball over. Boeheim isn’t asking for much more than that.
There will be times when Girard turns the ball over, or isn’t playing his best game. He got exposed against Oklahoma State. He’ll struggle against top-notch ACC teams as well. None of that’s surprising since he’s a true freshman. But when Syracuse starts to play sloppy, Washington could enter for Girard and right the ship. He won’t be asked to score with player like Buddy Boeheim and Hughes on the floor. And Girard will get a breather, and a talking to from Boeheim on what he should do better.
Washington likely won’t have a huge role this year. But his contributions are incredibly important.