A game after making his first career three in a Syracuse uniform, Benny Williams recorded a career high 24 minutes against Wake Forest. There were small developments made contest by contest that led SU fans to believe the former four-star recruit had a real chance at becoming a difference maker by season’s end. However, that quickly changed the week of January 9th. Williams played just four minutes against Pitt, the worst team in the ACC. Then against Florida State, a team with depth, length and athleticism, Benny, uniform on, spent the whole game riding the pine. Postgame, he went back out on the court to get shots up.
Jim Boeheim said postgame that he was impressed with “the small lineup,” with Symir Torrence subbing in for Jimmy Boeheim for ball-handling purposes. It seems like Boeheim has relegated his subs to situational use, instead of regular rotations like in the NBA. Torrence for breaking the press, and Frank Anselem for giving Jesse Edwards a rest when the starting center gets in foul trouble.
Jim doesn’t trust the subs to play regular minutes. That might be fair, but there has to be a situation when Benny Williams is a valuable contributor. What about against a team with fresh legs and athletic forwards? What about when your starting small forward is 3-9 from the floor and invisible for most of the game?
The typical Coach Boeheim refrain of “these players aren’t ready to play” should rattling around in fans’ heads. Williams isn’t ready to give anyone 15 points just yet, but a player has to build confidence to be able to perform in big stages. Giving him around 10 minutes of run per game would allow him to find his spots on the floor, figure out how to operate and experience real ACC competition against other players with NBA draft potential. Instead, a player that wants to improve is stuck in a rut. Regardless of mistakes in practice, Williams has the athletic ability to compete at an extremely high level, and as we’ve seen, a knack for highlight-reel plays. That shouldn’t be bottled up.
The scary thing about this situation is the looming threat of the transfer portal. Williams said earlier this season he was going to stick things out in the 315, but if other schools come offering starting spots (or NIL deals), all bets could be off. It is tough to blame players for passing up opportunities to get on the court. If Jim Boeheim doesn’t let Benny Williams see the floor, he most certainly could find playing time in another jersey next season.