Happy New Year Fizz Nation! In the light of auld acquaintances being forgot and drinking a cup of kindness yet, let’s dissect some New Year’s Resolutions for Jim Boeheim’s bunch. We touched on it in the latest edition of Fizz Five, but here’s some more food for thought.
1. Give Chris Bell a Rebounding Ultimatum
You can tell by Boeheim’s demeanor in press conferences he’s getting sick of it. Benny Williams got the memo against Boston College, racking up 11 boards. Sure, Bell had five rebounds against Cornell, but a disappointing effort against Pittsburgh led to perhaps the most bashing of him we’ve seen so far. His 2 rebound performance against the Eagles over 13 minutes was mediocre at best. Enough is enough.
If Bell does not pick up the slack on the glass, he has no place in the starting lineup. Such efforts are unacceptable now, just wait until we see UVA on Saturday, Miami and UNC later this month, and Duke on February 18. If Bell is still starting yet isn’t crashing the boards in those games, you’re essentially signing your own death warrant. If his performance is lackluster against Louisville tomorrow, Maliq Brown or Justin Taylor should take his starting spot.
2. Establish a Full-Time Sixth Man
There’s no consistency with how Boeheim utilizes his rotations game in and game out. There are some games where only eight players play, and then there are cases where 11 guys take the floor. Additionally, there’s no apparent pattern with how said players come off the bench. Occasionally it’s Brown, other times it’s Taylor, heck it was even John Bol Ajak at one point. What gives?
It’s time for this lack of clarity to change. Pick one guy, foul trouble offsetting (more on that below), to be the first off the bench every game. Brown is a very good rebounder. Taylor has a sweet shooting stroke. Quadir Copeland is an energizer bunny. Or if you move Bell out of the starting lineup, there’s another option. Pick one guy to be the sixth man, and there you go.
3. Fix Jesse Edwards’ Fouling Woes
This one should be a “no, duh” type of resolution because you could’ve said the same thing last year and it would’ve been relevant. Despite the pleas of all Orange fans before the season began, the Flying Dutchman’s foul trouble from last year remains prevalent. Edwards fouled out 11 times before he got hurt last year, including a stretch of five straight after a COVID pause. SU went 2-3 in that stretch, those three losses were by a combined nine points.
Edwards has fouled out only three times this year, but that doesn’t mean fouls haven’t been a problem. The big man picked up his fourth foul against BC a mere three minutes into the second half, forcing Mounir Hima into action. That’s not to say Hima wet the bed or is a bad backup, but Edwards’ importance to the team showed.
It’s taken long enough, hopefully the calendar flipping to 2023 is enough. Jesse, please stop with the fouling.
Syracuse is 9-5 so far. Good, not great. Those three resolutions are the path to future success. So, for the sake of auld lang syne, let’s hope SU follows them.