Cole Swider looks like the shiny new toy for Syracuse basketball. Coming from Villanova, the sharpshooter was promised to be just that after hitting 40% of his shots from beyond the arc last year. But Swider might be more than a spot-up shooter. In fact, he has to be.
After Syracuse’s 75-60 win over Drexel, Jim Boeheim said that Swider is still getting accustomed to his accelerated role in Orange. In his freshman season, the Rhode Island native played just 10 minutes a game. The next two years, Swider saw 19 minutes per contest. Now on the Hill, Boeheim projects more than 30 minutes each game.
That’s no problem for Syracuse fans. Swider logged 34 minutes against the Dragons with a well-rounded 11 points, five rebounds, four assists, and five steals. In the opener against Lafayette, it was a 14-point double-double. What sticks out about Swider is the other facets of his game. He can shoot well, and that’s nothing new. But four dimes in yesterday’s win is nothing to scoff at. Believe it or not, Swider might be the best passer on the team. He was the saving grace when the ball stopped. Girard will lead the team in passing, statistically. Symir Torrence is looking like a weak option as the backup guard. That’s not a role Swider will be in a position to fill, but his ball movement ability should not be lost on the average fan.
For Swider to reach his ceiling, he has to be one of the best defenders in the Zone. The length will help, and he doesn’t look like he has much more to fix in order to be the best Zone defender. Five steals speaks for itself. After the way Drexel shot from range yesterday, it would be nice to see him with his hands up on the arc more.
To make a long story short, Swider has a chance to be the most important player on the team. While his shooting isn’t outstanding so far this year, it will come. Boeheim said that defenses are already playing the perimeter the way they would for Buddy Boeheim. So, it will take time for Swider to find his shots. Even though Boeheim is an elite mid-range shooter, Swider has three inches and 20 pounds on Boeheim. That means the transfer is going to have an easier time with paint penetration, which will open up the floor for his sneaky good passing ability on kick-outs.