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Syracuse Still Needs An Established Second Option

Photo Courtesy of SU Athletics

Even in a game when Judah Mintz tallies 28 points, having one scorer is not enough. That was on full display in last night’s 85-69 loss to Florida State. Despite his high scoring output, Mintz struggled handling the ball and missed five free throws. There was no one there to pick him up, especially in the second half. Consistent scoring from any given player not named Mintz has been a major problem for Adrian Autry’s bunch this season, and it’s one that needs to be resolved now.

Two players in particular have been tabbed as the number two option at points this season. There have been flashes of brilliance for others, but as has been the predictable case, consistency has not been found.

When JJ Starling announced his decision to return to Central New York in March, people were marveling about the offensive prowess a backcourt him and Mintz could possess. The Baldwinsville native put that on full display against Miami on Saturday by draining six three-pointers en route to a 22 point day. How does he follow that up? An 0-5 showing from beyond the arc against Florida State. The biggest thing with Starling, and he has said it himself, is confidence. One game he’s oozing with it, the next he has none. It’s easy to root for the hometown kid, but still very frustrating when he doesn’t put it together from game to game.

Chris Bell strung together a series of good games in mid-to-late November against Colgate, Tennessee, and LSU. After the victory against the Tigers, many were wondering if the sophomore was ready to be Mintz’s secondary option. Alas, he was not. In a five game stretch that spanned from early-to-mid December into January, Bell did not reach double figures once while shooting a combined 2-12 from three-point land. Jim Boeheim said last year Bell had the potential to be a really great three-point shooter, and he has flashed it. Just not enough.

You can look elsewhere for sure, but you’ll only find the same issues of inconsistency. Justin Taylor has only topped 10 points three times since starting the season by doing it in each of the first two games and hasn’t done it since Niagara. Benny Williams hasn’t done it since the year was 2023 either. Maliq Brown is solid, but doesn’t have the perimeter presence yet. Quadir Copeland was a -24 one game after the shot of his life. All good players for sure, but none appear ready to take on the load of a secondary scorer.

You should interpret this as a call for someone not named Mintz to take a leap the rest of the way. Getting on your knees and hoping that he carries the load is not a recipe for success should this team want to make the NCAA Tournament. It does not matter who, but someone needs to step up for Syracuse over the final 12 games of the regular season.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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