Five games in, and there are still plenty of question marks around this Syracuse team. A certainty is that Joe Girard and Judah Mintz are the Orange’s top two scoring options. Yes, Girard is going to have nights like he did against St. John’s where he’s a liability.
Just because he’s switched positions doesn’t mean that the dud games are going to disappear. However, if SU wants to win games it needs its senior guard to be the key cog from a scoring perspective.
Mintz, meanwhile, despite only having a handful of games under his belt has also shown to be a dynamic scorer. The freshman is averaging 18 points per game and has made 51% of his field goal attempts. The numbers are obviously impressive, and the eye test confirms it. He’s the most dynamic player on the team and is absolutely one of the Orange’s top two options.
But, who’s next? That’s the question Syracuse needs to answer. SU learned against St. John’s that it can’t afford to rely solely on Girard and Mintz because, as mentioned, Girard will have his days where nothing falls and Mintz, as good as he is, is still a freshman, so bumps along the way are inevitable.
It starts with Jesse Edwards. The center had 18 points against the Red Storm in just 26 minutes, which is outstanding. However, the night before against Richmond, he only had 10, the same total the Dutchman put forth in the loss to Colgate.
The expectations for Edwards have changed, which is a testament to how much better he’s gotten. At this time last year, 10 points would have been considered a success, but now, with the way the offense is constructed and his massive role in it, it’s a recipe for Syracuse to find itself in trouble.
The biggest factor for Edwards is staying out of foul trouble. He only played six first half minutes in both games of the Empire Classic. As good as backup center Mounir Hima has been in the defense and rebounding categories, he isn’t nearly the offensive threat that Edwards is. Scoring 18 points in 26 minutes is fantastic efficiency, but it also leaves you wondering what he could have done in 36 minutes.
The other two obvious options are Chris Bell and Benny Williams, the other two members of the starting lineup. After employing a deep bench to start the season, Coach Boeheim reverted back to his usual ways of only playing six or seven, maybe eight guys in total. That means that starters will consistently get 30+ minutes per game.
Bell and Williams have to put up points consistently if that is the case. They’re very different players, of course. Bell saw his shooting come around in the Empire Classic, making over 40% of his threes over the two games in Brooklyn after going scoreless in two of his first three collegiate games.
Williams, meanwhile, has shown some flashes. The sophomore reached double figures against St. John’s and Colgate and made half of his field goal attempts in both contests. That needs to be the norm. He needs the aggression that has been there at times to be consistent so he can be counted on to at least be a scoring option.