Saturday’s loss to Virginia Tech was the first game Syracuse played without its premier big man, Jesse Edwards. A huge reason for SU’s success down the stretch this season was the play of Edwards, as his improvement was unlike anything the Orange have seen at the center spot since the likes of Rakeem Christmas. As we all know, the dutchman went down with an injured wrist against Boston College and will now sit out the rest of the year.
Frank Anselem was the obvious replacement for Edwards. His 6-10 215 lbs frame fits well at the anchor of the zone, and his long arms work incredibly well on the boards. In his first career start last night, the Lagos, Nigeria native shined. While his offensive skills aren’t at all close to that of Edwards, Anselem was a menace in the rebounding column. The sophomore worked for 15 rebounds which marked a career-high (and would’ve done so for Edwards as well).
It’s numbers like these that SU could’ve really used in losses this season such as Villanova in which the Orange allowed the Wildcats 18 offensive rebounds, 18! Or the many other games this year in which they were outrebounded.
A performance like that one turned plenty of heads and got Orange fans thinking about how many minutes Frank deserves. With a healthy Edwards or not, we should see Anselem in the game for 25 minutes AT LEAST. Sure, his offense doesn’t add much, but his defense and rebounding capability more than make up for it. Plus, with time you can bet he’ll have improved his touch around the rim in no time.
Obviously, Edwards getting hurt is not a good thing. Though I’m sure Syracuse is glad Anselem shined after being shoved into a situation like this one.
This season’s Anselem is a lot like last season’s or the year prior’s Edwards. A lanky kid, looking a little unsure on the floor, but showing potential in pretty much every step he takes. SU fans should be pretty excited with what they have in Anselem.