Wow. Syracuse traveled into South Bend after getting embarrassed by No. 16 Illinois on Tuesday, but you couldn’t have predicted the chaos that would ensue. The Orange survived every shot Notre Dame fired en route to a one-point win. It was a breath of fresh air to see a Quad 1 victory after Jim Boeheim’s bunch picked up a grand total of zero such wins last year. With that, let’s dive into the report card for this one.
Joe Girard: C+
The stat sheet says one thing. The Glens Falls native had a much-needed 20-point performance after going 3-25 over Syracuse’s 3-game losing streak. The eye test says another. Girard is still chucking long threes with a defender straight in his face, and that reflects his 2-10 performance from beyond the arc. Additionally, he fouled Marcus Hammond on the tying bucket with under 30 seconds, giving him a free throw to take the lead. It ended up being a moot point, but that is unacceptable situational basketball. Make no mistake, you’re very justified in being happy that Girard finally picked up his shooting slack, but little plays like that could haunt the Orange down the line.
Jesse Edwards: A+
Yes, he had three turnovers, which is never a good thing as a center who doesn’t have a ton of ball-handling responsibilities. But every other aspect of the Flying Dutchman’s performance has to put a smile on your face. 22 points on 10-15 shooting along with 14 rebounds instantly makes you happy. But we’ve left out the best detail. After fouling out in two straight games, Edwards didn’t have a foul and played the whole 40 minutes. That is awesome, and if it continues this team’s ceiling will get much higher.
Judah Mintz: B-
Mintz wasn’t great in this contest, but he did make the winning bucket with just 13 seconds left. It’s tough to pick yourself back up after ND went up on the and-1, but Mintz’s beyond explosive first step made that for naught. One thing though. His lack of a jumpshot hurts. Once you get into the heart of ACC play and teams have more film, they will adjust to his ability to slash and force him into more jumpshots. There lies the need to work on it.
Benny Williams: F
Someone needs to show this man the Taurean Prince clip from 2016 after Yale beat Baylor in March Madness, because Williams did not get a rebound in 22 minutes of action. He also scored only two points and his defensive rotations were way too slow. Williams has been very inconsistent this season (not nearly as inconsistent as Girard though), and it could hurt this team big time down the line.
Chris Bell: D
It’s hard to really evaluate Bell’s performance because he didn’t really play. He started every game like he always has, only he got a whole 10 minutes and didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet. His rotations also weren’t good enough in the zone in the first half, and Notre Dame got plenty of open threes in the corner as a result. At least he got 2 rebounds? If Bell doesn’t start producing…
Justin Taylor: B
…Taylor will get his minutes. Another guy who didn’t exactly light the world on fire, but did the little things very well. Hustling after loose balls, making good passes, rotating well in the zone, and taking good shots are what is going to get Taylor more playing time. You’d like to see him score a little more than 5 points in 30 minutes, but that’s ok. Taylor is earning Boeheim’s respect as games go by, and it’s great to see.
Jim Boeheim: B+
Boeheim certainly has to have silenced a few critics after this one. But there is one questionable decision keeping him from a higher grade.
What did Maliq Brown and Quadir Copeland do to end up in Boeheim’s dog house? Not playing either of them is one thing, giving John Bol Ajak 18 minutes in place of them is another. Maybe Boeheim knows something we don’t know about Ajak (he did have 4 assists) and his ability to play the zone, but he isn’t as athletic as Brown and Copeland and doesn’t make up for it with his rebounding. Other than that, Boeheim made the necessary adjustments to limit Notre Dame’s three-point shooting as the game went on, and that says quite a lot. Overall a good day for the bench boss.