Bourama Sidibe recently announced he’ll be returning to Syracuse in the Fall. With Marek Dolezaj off to bigger and better things, a young Jesse Edwards that Coach Boeheim claims is still “not ready” waiting in the wings, and a potential transfer big, the starting center spot will be wide open to start the year. Sidibe coming back might’ve been a great sign at first, but how much of an impact will the veteran bring?
This upcoming season will be Sidibe’s 5th in Orange. Let’s take a look back at what the Mali native has meant to this team in the past and what he could do going forward:
The big’s first two seasons weren’t all that memorable aside from his unforgettable 18 point, 16 rebound performance against Pitt his freshman year (2017-18), it was his Junior season where he really stepped into a big role. Paschal Chukwu was out of the way, it was Bourama’s time to shine. That season, which was ended due to COVID-19, saw the senior score 7.6 ppg, and grab 6 rpg. From that viewpoint he was solid, doing his job corralling rebounds and converting layups. However, we shan’t be so naive. Sidibe’s biggest drawback as a player is his consistent foul rate. The man is a walking foul. I wrote earlier this year about a similar topic, in doing so cited that the senior fouled out or had 4 fouls in 26 of the 32 games he played in back in the 2019-20 campaign. 26!! That’s an absurd number. This past season, Sidibe was sidelined with a knee injury in the opener opposing Bryant, not playing again until February, where he played 11 minutes against Clemson. What do you think he did in those 11 minutes? Correct, fouled the heck out of the Tigers, 4 times in fact. 4 times in 11 minutes! That’s obscene. Clearly he was still battling that injury so there is some slack to be cut, but still, that’s an absurd stat line. We’ll hope going forward that his knee does bother him, but it doesn’t seem likely. Sidibe is definitely declining, but he might have a ‘lightning in a bottle’ type season left in him.
That leads us to the question, what difference does #34 bring to the 2021-22? Without a transfer such as Tre Mitchell, Sidibe is most likely the starting center to begin the season. He probably is replaced by Jesse Edwards mid-way through the year and gets solid bench minutes from there. Syracuse is turning into a team that needs to utilize a strong bench. Sidibe could find a new role with solid bench minutes for a squad that will be juggling plenty of new faces in the Fall. The way Syracuse succeeds is with the best zone-anchor possible on the court, without Marek Dolezaj, there’s a question mark as to what that is for this team.