Jesse Edwards has undoubtedly been one of the largest bright spots for Syracuse this season. The big has gone under a serious transformation since looking like a deer in headlights every time he was on the floor just a couple of years ago. At times this season, Edwards has been that offensive center Syracuse fans have been clamoring for ever since Rakeem Christmas graduated in 2015. Averaging 12 ppg, 7 rpg, and 3 bpg, the dutch big has been one of the only constant positives Boeheim can hang his hat on this year. Coach even sang the flying dutchman’s praises in an interview with ‘Cuse Sports Talk last week in which he said Edwards is a top 10% center in college basketball.
Though, that’s why it was so confusing when Boeheim said after the Pitt loss that he needed more out of Edwards, but didn’t think he was capable of it?
It’s got to be incredibly confusing to be playing under Jim Boeheim at times. In this case, what are you supposed to think if you’re Edwards? One week, you’re one of the best centers in the country, the next, the reason the team lost to one of the worst teams in power 5 basketball is that you weren’t capable of playing well enough. Which one is it? Meanwhile, the Orange keep losing and it seems that this coaching staff won’t just admit that this team is bad. This is a bad basketball team and there’s no way around it, and it’s not the center’s fault. SU’s struggles do not fall on the shoulders of Edwards. As previously mentioned he’s one of the only guys acting as glue for this sinking ship. Things like Buddy Boeheim’s inconsistency, Joe Girard’s general lack of solid play at any point within the last few games, and the entire team’s poor defense every night out are what’s killing this squad. It doesn’t help that they were forced to build a team through the transfer portal because the promising talent in the form of Quincy Guerrier, Robert Braswell, and Kadary Richmond no longer wanted to play for Boeheim. Syracuse was forced to change its identity entirely from a defensive-minded team that doesn’t care about having to score the ball at a high rate, to a team predicated on jacking up threes with no care in the world on the defensive side of the ball. That doesn’t equal wins especially when the team can’t even do what its most marketed skill is, scoring.
The program is in a bad spot right now. This season is over, this team has no chance at the NCAA tournament, even dwindling hopes for the NIT. Sure, every team is allowed to have an off-year, but this isn’t an off-year. Syracuse basketball is in a serious downturn and has been for several years.