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Is Jesse Edwards Really Underutilized?

With Syracuse basketball under .500 through 15 games for the first time in the Boeheim-era, everyone wants to simplify the problem by saying a little more of this or a little more of that will be the solution this team needs to turn it around. It’s almost never that easy.

It’s no surprise that the offense is relying heavily on shooting, centered around Buddy Boeheim. If a fan fells you they would do something different to start the year… they’re lying. Buddy was a preseason All-ACC selection, and whether it’s true or not, Head Coach Jim Boeheim called this squad the best shooting team he ever coached. That’s not to say changes can’t be made, but be careful what you wish for.

Calls to make Jesse Edwards a bigger part of the offense are reactive and emotional. For one, this offense is not the problem. The Orange rank fourth in the conference with 78.6 points per game. Less than a basket per game behind North Carolina for third. As painful as the Miami loss was, teams should expect to win when they score 87 points, as SU did.

Granted, 22 of those 87 came from Edwards on a career night. However, it’s not the first time Syracuse lit up the stat sheet. There’s no doubt that Edwards has a key role in the offense, but there is a limit to his production. The big man committed six turnovers in that contest, all on double teams in the high post. If he can’t handle pressure and feed the rock to help SU play 4-3 basketball, then it might be time to temper expectations of Edwards’ role. Then there is also the obvious obstacle of availability. Edwards logged just 20 minutes against Wake Forest before fouling out for the fourth straight game. So, it’s fair to ask how the Dutchman can be under-utilized if he isn’t on the floor when his team needs him most.

The first step to solving a problem is identifying it. Syracuse fans have to understand that they are scoring enough. The defense is doomed. Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard are still, and always have been, sub-par Zone defenders. Edwards is doing his best, but is stretched too thin when the ball gets to the high post (which happens too often with Boeheim and Girard at the top of the Zone.) All fingers should be pointed at the wings for making Edwards’ job more difficult on the perimeter. Cole Swider is clearly not equipped to replace an elite wing defender in Quincy Guerrier. Jimmy Boeheim has shown an astonishingly low amount of ability and awareness in his father’s system.

So next time you’re yelling at the television screaming for Jesse to get the ball, ask yourself if more Edwards layups will really solve the problem, or if it is just an alternative to the failing status quo.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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