In Syracuse’s opener against Bryant, Syracuse center left the game after four minutes of play, after he sustained a leg injury. Sidibe didn’t return and will undergo an MRI. Without Sidibe on the floor, head coach Jim Boeheim rotated Marek Dolezaj to the five, Quincy Guerrier to power forward and Alan Griffin taking over at shooting guard.
“With Bourama going down, if he can’t play, Marek’s starting at center, Quincy’s at forward, Alan’s at the other forward,” Boeheim said. “That’s our best team.”
Clearly this is SU’s best team without Sidibe on the floor. While Guerrier makes up for some of Sidibe’s lost production on the glass, SU will have trouble finding another low post defender if Sidibe misses time.
Last season, Sidibe led the team with 12 double-digit rebound performances. Dolezaj had six games with 10 or more rebounds, while Guerrier had three such games. While Guerrier is a physical presence down low, Dolezaj simply doesn’t have the size to match up with ACC centers. SU lists Dolezaj at just 201 pounds, 17 pounds lighter than Sidibe.
While these two are clearly the starters without Sidibe in the front court, the Orange are now without a reliable substitute. Last season Guerrier served that role but had issues with foul trouble.
If Guerrier continues to foul (while playing more minutes) SU will need Frank Anselem or Jesse Edwards to step up. At 6-foot-10, 210 pounds, Anselem already has the size and weight to compete in the low blocks. He also has a 7’5” wingspan and may already be the most athletic player at center.
Meanwhile Edwards showed some promise in his few opportunities last season. The sophomore clearly has the size and frame to become a solid low-post option. While Syracuse athletics lists him at 6-foot-11, 215 pounds, Edwards needs to put on more weight. Too often, bigger, more experienced players could just push him out of there way.
These are likely the two main options for Boeheim, but he has a couple of others if something goes awry. John Bol Ajak and Robert Braswell both have shooting touch from outside the paint. Bol Ajak is still pretty raw and redshirted last season. He did show the potential to be a multi-dimensional scorer with time.
Braswell simply hasn’t received the playing time he deserves. Kudos to the guy for not transferring. He’s a solid player who can score from outside, or guard – to an extent – in the paint. Unfortunately for him, he’s been stuck behind two bigger players in Dolezaj and Sidibe, and more athletic wings that can score from anywhere (Elijah Hughes and Alan Griffin). But perhaps now, he’ll finally get more opportunity to play for the Orange.