My 2021-22 SU basketball preview Part 3: The Forwards | Syracusefan.com

My 2021-22 SU basketball preview Part 3: The Forwards

SWC75

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Last year we had five forwards on the team. They included one senior, one junior, two sophomores and a freshman, all very talented. We were set at these positions for years! And they are all gone! All could have returned, even the senior as a ‘super-senior’, but they all left, leaving Jim Boeheim and his staff to try to do a massive patch job. But they found some good pieces to do it with, although I don’t think we’ll have the sort of depth we would have had without the mass exodus.

Players lost from last year’s forwards:

Robert Braswell 6-7 206

Braswell was a talented reserve who I thought was getting lost in the crowd at this position. He was a track star with a 7 foot wingspan who could high-jump 6-10. As a basketball player he had a reputation as an outstanding shooter and in his freshman year, in limited play, he seemed to have a very advanced game. Shooting is the one thing he didn’t do well most of last year but in five ACC and NCAA tournament games he went 14 for 27 and scored 37 points in 117 minutes. Instead he proved to be a good rebounder and a fine defender who understood his role in Boeheim’s zone. He virtually supplanted Robert Griffin down the stretch, both due to the latter’ free-fall and his own usefulness. He could have had an even bigger role on this year’s team but he decided to look for greener grass and thinks he found it in Charlotte.

Marek Dolezaj 6-10 201

Marek will always be a huge favorite of SU fans. He came here from Slovakia with a tall, skinny body: 6-9 180. But he was quick and aggressive, hustling all over the court for loose balls, blocked shots, and rebounds. He could handle the ball well for a big man and was an excellent passer. Boeheim liked having him out there because the offense ran more efficiently with him on the court. I think he played as much center as he did not only because of the failure of our centers to stay healthy or develop but because Jim wanted to be able to put Marek on the court and still play his other forwards. He was overpowered inside by teams that had strong big men but he could also try to draw those guys from the basket where he could out-maneuver them. He one weakness in his game was a reluctance to shoot the ball. He could hit a medium range jumper and it would have opened everything else up for his drives and passes but he rarely pulled the trigger. But what he will be best remembered for is his courage. He took on 6-7 285 pound Zion Williamson to draw a charge in a game where we beat the #1 ranked Blue Devils in their place in overtime. Last year, he got hit in the mouth and had a front tooth broken off. After clearing most of the blood from his mouth, Boeheim told him “It’s only a tooth” and he re-entered and played the rest of the game. He could have come back as a super-senior but returned home and signed with a pro team, BC Ternopil of the Ukrainian Basketball Super League. Good luck to him. If he’d stayed we probably would have had another year of a forward playing center while the true centers watched from the bench. I’d kind of like to see what those centers can do this year.

Alan Griffin 6-5 190

Griffin was an intriguing mystery man last year. He’d transferred in from Illinois, where he’d put up some big numbers per 40 minutes:
19.8p 10.0r 1.4a 1.0s 0.5b positives: 32.7 7.3mfg 0.4mft 1.7to 2.5pf negatives: 11.9 = NET: +20.8
That’s playing at an All-American level. Amazingly, he wasn’t the starter. He was behind an established star, Avo Dosunmu, who had similar numbers except for the rebounds and a couple other established players, Andres Feliz and Trent Frazier, who were said to be better defensive players. That was a red flag but still, if Griffin could put up numbers anywhere near that for us, he would be an enormous addition.

Early on, that’s exactly what he seemed to be. He had 92 points and 39 rebounds in his first five games. Then he had a game where he played 24 minutes and failed to score, getting 4 rebounds. The next game he scored 24 points, had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks, one of which saved the game. He loved to trail the play on the other team’s fast break, catch up to the ball and swat it away from behind using his speed and leaping ability. He remained the team’s most statistically productive player most of the season, (vying with fellow forward Quincy Guerrier), but there was a 5 point, 3 rebound game against Miami, 5 and 4 against Notre Dame, 4 and 4 against North Carolina. Jim Boeheim seemed hesitant to praise him after his good games, suggesting that he was not entirely pleased with his new star. As late as the last game in the regular season, Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Clemson.

In the post season, he seemed not to be interested and Boeheim had little patience with him. Griffin played pretty well against North Carolina State in the first round of the ACCT scoring 13 points, pulling down 8 rebounds and passing for 5 assists. But in the remaining four games, he played just 51 minutes, shot 1 for 13 from the field, scored 8 points and had 3 rebounds. Boeheim had Braswell on the court in his place during most of our run and it was no surprise to anybody when Griffin didn’t come back here for his senior year. He declared for the draft but went undrafted. He was last seen playing for the Los Angeles Lakers summer league team. He scored 10 points in 3 games. He just kept getting smaller and smaller until he just disappeared.

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(from 'The Incredible Shrinking Man', 1957)

Quincy Guerrier 6-7 220

Quincy came here from Canada, just as Oshae Brissett, who is starting to make a name for himself with the NBA’s Indian Pacers, was. Guerrier has constantly compared himself to Brissett since he came here, insisting that the big difference is that he had a better jump shot. In high school, he was mostly a perimeter player. He hasn’t been Brissett, who was more athletic, and he hasn’t been a perimeter player, either. He was 3 for 24 from the arc his first season and improved that to 23 of 74 last year, which is still a mediocre 31%. What he was was our strongest player and Jim Boeheim wanted him working inside. Against the early season teams, he was able to dominate. In our first 15 games, Quincy averaged 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds, with 7 double-doubles. When we started playing ACC front lines, at 6-7 and not really a leaper, he found himself, using a Matt Park term, “getting roofed” by taller players. He also was hobbled by some injuries sustain in those paint wars down the stretch as his performance in the remaining 13 games fell to 10.3p/7.2r.

Still, people where surprised when he left the team, first looking to the NBA draft but then putting himself in the transfer portal, winding up at Oregon. There were rumors that he felt Boeheim wasn’t allowing him to be the perimeter player he wanted to be and, at 6-7, might have to be to play in the NBA. Athlon lists him third in their article on “Transfers to Watch”, saying it might mean a third straight Pac-12 title for the Ducks. Per the article on Oregon, they have plenty of shooters and are looking for Quincy to provide “toughness in the post”. Good luck, Q!

One of our problems last year was that our front line went 6-5, a skinny 6-10 and 6-7. This year we might go 6-9, 6-11, 6-9. In a zone, that can be a big difference.

Woody Newton 6-8 200

Woody came in last year advertising himself as “the nation’s #1 lock-down defender”. I liked the attitude: to play defense, you’ve got to be committed to it. He also had pretty good offensive skills and good size. He had a nice run early in the season, a four-game stretch in which he scored 33 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in 60 minutes of play. Everyone was excited by his potential. The rest of the year he played 27 minutes, scored 5 points and had 2 rebounds. Then he left for Oklahoma State. There was talk he got hit hard by Covid but that wouldn’t explain the transfer. You wonder why he didn’t see everybody else leaving and stay. Athlon says, in their Oklahoma State article, “they’ll be deep and talented”. Lindy’s says of Newton that he “hopes for more playing time”.

They’re all gone. So Jim Boeheim and his staff had to get “deep and talented” in a hurry. They did pretty well in the ‘talented’ part but I have concerns about ‘deep.’


The Current Group:

Jimmy Boeheim 6-9 225 super senior

Jimmy is the older brother of Buddy Boeheim. He spent his first three years playing for Cornell and didn’t play at all last year because the Ivy League canceled their season due to the pandemic. Then he decided to join his father and brother under the Dome, creating fantasies of the three of them, (and Julie), cutting down the nets as they all go off into the sunset: Jim into retirement, Buddy on to the NBA and Jimmy to whatever. JB takes a dim view of this, (and of other fan fiction). Even if that doesn’t happen, the media loves family stories and coach-sons relationships so you’ll be hearing a lot about the Boeheims this year.

Jimmy is a good college forward. I don’t know how much of an NBA prospect he is but I just heard a radio interview, with Mike Waters, who covers the team for the local paper, who says that Jimmy might start at forward ahead of lauded recruit Benny Williams, because of his experience at this level and because his father is the coach. People accused JB of nepotism with Buddy until he exploded at the end of last season. That silenced them and left the question of whether JB would start his son over a more qualified player unanswered. That debate could be rejoined this year, although I expect all three of the primary forwards to play.

At Cornell, Jimmy, (who was listed as 6-8 215, so he’s grown a bit), started out as a part-time player and grew into an Ivy league star: Jimmy Boeheim College Stats | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com

Per 40 minutes:
Freshman: 10.7p 7.5r 1.7a 0.1s 0.8b positive: 20.8, 8.5mfg 1.0mft 1.3to 3.6pf negative: 14.4 NET: +6.4
Sophomore: 19.8p 5.5r 1.6a 0.8s 0.7b positive: 28.4, 8.4mfg 1.4mft 2.1to 2.7pf negative: 14.6 NET: +13.8
Junior: 21.8p 7.3r 2.5a 0.9s 0.4b positive: 32.9, 10.6mfg 3.7mft 2.5to 1.9pf negative: 18.7 NET: +14.2

It’s interesting that, on an Ivy League level, he was a bigger scorer than Cole Swider, (see below). He shot 50.3% on two point shots, 29.5% on three point shots and 71.6% from the line. As a junior he shot 35.0% from three. I think on this team, he’ll take fewer threes because we have firepower elsewhere and focus more on going to the basket and making those two-pointers. Here are the closest things to highlight films that we have on Jimmy:

Against Coppin State, a lower-level Division 1 team:

Jimmy Boeheim Cornell Big Red 25 PTS 17 REBS vs Coppin State Eagles | Next Ones

Against Syracuse, an upper-level Division 1 team, (we hope):

Cornell VS. Syracuse Condensed Game | 2019-20 ACC Men's Basketball

Jimmy, (#3 in those highlights: he’ll be #0 here, for some reason), has a strong motor and some good moves to the basket. He can hit the long one but he’s more of a jack-of-all-trades than a gunner. He always played well against Syracuse. In his first game as a freshman he scored 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, his only double-figure scoring of the season. The next year he had 9 points, 6 rebs and 4 assists and as a junior he had 25/2/2. The Coppin State game was the next one and he had 25/17/2 in that one.

There’s been some suggestion that Jimmy could perform a Marek-like roll on this years team: playing center while our still-not-ready centers sit and watch. That seems unlikely due to the apparent depth at center and lack of depth at forward. He’s more likely to be in a rotation with Cole Swider and Benny Williams.

Chaz Owens 6-5 200 sophomore

Chaz is the son of former SU great Billy Owens. But he is not Billy Owens. It’s been suggested that the was a ‘legacy recruit’, just given a scholarship because of his relationship to his father. Last year he played for a total of 2 minutes in 2 games. Those were his only stats. But looks like a guy who can play in these highlight films:

CHAZ OWENS Highlights (Shipley School c/o 2019, Team PYO AAU)

Chaz Owens

CHAZ OWENS season opener HIGHLIGHTS (SHIPLEY SCHOOL c/o 19)

Here is what I wrote last year: “He can shoot and he can dunk. He dribbled to set up one shot and had a nice scoop shot on a drive to the basket. His father has taught him to ward off defenders on his drive and to keep the ball on the other side of his body…I predict there will be a game in his career here where we will have to rely on him and he'll come through for a big win.” He was listed as a guard last year so that’s where I put him in my review. He’s now listed as a forward. He’s the one true swing-man we have: a guy who, in a pinch, could help us in the front-court or the backcourt. Buddy Boeheim is 6-6 but he’s more purely a guard.

Cole Swider 6-9 225 senior

Cole was heavily recruited by Syracuse coming out of high school but he went to Villanova, where he didn’t quite fit in. He was the first guy Jim and the staff brought in after the mass exodus at this position.

He was a four-star recruit, rated #44 nationally by 247 and the #9 power forward, much higher than anyone we lost.

SI: “Cole Swider is an elite shooter, but he is not just that. Swider was a prolific three point shooter in high school and that translated to his time at Villanova. He shot over 40% from the outside last season. Swider, however, has other elements to his game. He can hit the mid-range shot, attack off the dribble and finish around the rim. Swider has added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame with the Wildcats and is up to 225-pounds. That allows him to be physical inside, play in the post at times and also score through contact. His body type and strength could allow him to play in the middle of the zone if Syracuse elects to go small at times. Similar to how the Orange used Tyler Lydon. Swider has a better handle than most would think and is also a solid passing forward. As a rebounder, Swider is not afraid to mix it up inside. He shows solid rebounding instincts, so his numbers on the boards should improve with a more consistent role.”

Orangefizz: “Swider is crafty at finding open passing lanes, where teammates can locate him from behind the arc for open threes. He’s also terrific in transition and is able to sprint past transitioning defenders for easy buckets. While he’s not the quickest player on the court, Swider is solid at finding openings within a defense, and moves very well without the ball. This past season there were plenty of moments where Syracuse’s off-ball offensive players simply stood around, waiting for a dribbler to create shots. Swider doesn’t do that. Instead, he rotates well and moves into passing lanes. At 225 pounds, Swider has the size and bulk that Syracuse is lacking. While he’s best in catch and shoot opportunities, Swider will also back down smaller defenders into the paint when there is a size mismatch. Once he’s on the low blocks, the junior likes to utilize an easy hook shot to score over his defender.”

With a transfer, you always wonder why they transferred and why things didn’t work out at their own school. (I’m sure Charlotte, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Seton Hall are wondering about our guys.)

Nunes: “Q: Cole Swider had plenty of hype around him out of high school but didn’t seem to hit that potential at Villanova. What do you think was the main reason(s) for that? A, (from Chris Lane at VU Hoops): It’s a tough one. He looked like a perfect fit for Villanova when he signed, but it just never really clicked for him under Jay Wright. I’d argue that he finally took a major step forward on the offensive end this season, but the athletic/defensive shortcomings limited his ability to become a major contributor. Offensively he’s on the scouting report for the shooting but never fully developed other parts of his offensive game. And despite that good size, he was never really a threat to score in the paint. Jay Wright’s offense is another factor here. He leans heavily on skilled player that can create their own shot, as well as create for others. Swider never really showed an ability to do either and mostly required others to get his shots for him. I don’t think that offensive style and his skillset ever really fit together well.”

On his defense: “Swider is limited athletically compared to a lot of the guys he was going up against every night in the Big East. That won’t change with a move to the ACC. He’s a fighter on the boards and always give s 100%, but he can be -- and often was — targeted defensively because he doesn’t have the feet to stay in front of many players on the perimeter. It reached the point late in the season at Villanova where there were games he just couldn’t play in because of bad matchups. Obviously with the zone at Syracuse, they should be able to hide him a bit more… Villanova’s switch-heavy defense left him exposed in a mismatch a lot, and he could get lost and into scramble mode fairly easily against teams that attacked and required the defense to help and rotate. That shouldn’t happen much if at all in the zone. At 6’9” he’s got really good size as well and should be able to contribute on the defensive glass.”

That doesn’t seem like the same player SI and Orangefizz talked about. The Daily Orange asked Cole why he transferred: “The work ethic followed him to Nova, but the opportunities didn’t. Although his mindset on the game mirrored Jay Wright’s program, his offense-first playing style subverted him to a reserve role. The sharpshooter averaged 4.4 field goal attempts per game in his three seasons with the Wildcats. When he noticed a logjam in Villanova’s frontcourt due to every player receiving an extra year of eligibility, he knew it was time for a change.” He was part of the rotation but never quite became 20 minutes a game player for Jay Wright:

Cole Swider College Stats | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com
Per 40 minutes:
Freshman: 14.5p 5.2r 2.4a 0.6s 0.2b positive: 22.9, 8.0mfg 1.4mft 1.8to 5.2pf negative: 16.4 NET: +6.5
Sophomore: 13.1p 6.4r 1.3a 0.4s 0.7b positive: 21.9, 6.4mfg 2.1mft 1.7to 3.6pf negative: 13.8 NET: +8.1
Junior: 12.0p 5.8r 2.3a 1.1s 0.2b positive: 21.4, 5.6mfg 0.3mft 0.8to 2.6pf negative: 9.3 NET: +12.1

He’s improved overall. His scoring has actually declined but he’s also missed fewer shots. His three point shooting has steadily improved, (28% to 40%), but his two-point shooting actually declined last year from 61% to 50%. He wasn’t a good free throw shooter until last year (75%). He can rebound but isn’t a terror on the boards. He’s not much of a shot-blocker despite being 6-9 but that could change in a zone.

I love his highlight tape, (which is from 2019-20):

2019-20: Cole Swider Villanova Wildcats 2019-20 Highlight Montage

Yes, it’s a highlight tape and all the shots go in but he looks like an NBA player to me. Quick, smooth release, able to create his own shot and drive to the basket, back a guy down off the dribble. It’s all offensive but he looks like he could be a very good player for us.

Both Swider and Boeheim are seniors but could return next year as ‘super seniors’ under the Covid rules: If Jimmy Boeheim transfers, when can he play and how many years will he have left? (Mike’s Mailbox)

But still, it’s important for JB to bring in some forwards in his next recruiting class.

Benny Williams 6-8 215 freshman

Benny is our first 5 star recruit in quite a while, (although, checking 247, he’s now a 4 star, probably because he chose us). He was ranked the 31st best recruit in the country and the 6th best small forward. People have tended to assume he would start immediately but word from inside the program suggests that he might find himself behind Jimmy Boeheim. It really doesn’t matter. With three legitimate forwards, they will all play a lot, splitting up 80 minutes a game.

247: “Has positive length for a combo forward. Is thin, however, and needs to build up mass and strength. A high leaper with athleticism. Can struggle to utilize athleticism against contact and while in traffic. Has a great shooters touch. Finishes well on the move going to the basket. Is a reliable three-point shooter. Has potential to really extend his range. Not necessarily a nifty ball handler, but Williams is a reliable handler and can see the floor and distribute while on the move. Is a straight line driver who likes to utilize a crossover early in the drive. Has potential has a versatile defender and overall rebounder. Developing physical strength and toughness is vital.”

Some highlights:

5 STAR SYRACUSE COMMIT! | 6'8 Benny Williams of IMG Academy | Full #BIGSHOTS Highlights

5-Star Benny Williams DUNKED EVERYTHING! Full Myrtle Beach Mix

Special Recruiting Breakdown of Benny Williams

He seems to have all the skills you’d want and to have an “isn’t it fun to be me” attitude. He enjoys the game and how he can play it. When I first heard that we were recruiting Benny Williams I noted that, since we were bringing in Woody Newton, they as forwards would make a refreshing change from all the foreign names we’d had to learn how to pronounce. But having seen Woody last year and looking at Williams, I think they would have made a heck of a pair of forwards for us in the years to come. Too bad Woody couldn’t have looked around and seen that everyone else was leaving and decided to stay. With Jimmy Boeheim and Cole Swider being seniors, Williams and Newton could have played a lot this year and taken over the position next. As it is, we’ve got a potentially strong rotation of three forwards. But if anyone gets injured, (and too many have in recent years for SU), the situation here could get pretty thin in a hurry.
 
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Last year we had five forwards on the team. They included one senior, one junior, two sophomores and a freshman, all very talented. We were set at these positions for years! And they are all gone! All could have returned, even the senior as a ‘super-senior’, but they all left, leaving Jim Boeheim and his staff to try to do a massive patch job. But they found some good pieces to do it with, although I don’t think we’ll have the sort of depth we would have had without the mass exodus.

Players lost from last year’s forwards:

Robert Braswell 6-7 206

Braswell was a talented reserve who I thought was getting lost in the crowd at this position. He was a track star with a 7 foot wingspan who could high-jump 6-10. As a basketball player he had a reputation as an outstanding shooter and in his freshman year, in limited play, he seemed to have a very advanced game. Shooting is the one thing he didn’t do well most of last year but in five ACC and NCAA tournament games he went 14 for 27 and scored 37 points in 117 minutes. Instead he proved to be a good rebounder and a fine defender who understood his role in Boeheim’s zone. He virtually supplanted Robert Griffin down the stretch, both due to the latter’ free-fall and his own usefulness. He could have had an even bigger role on this year’s team but he decided to look for greener grass and thinks he found it in Charlotte.

Marek Dolezaj 6-10 201

Marek will always be a huge favorite of SU fans. He came here from Slovakia with a tall, skinny body: 6-9 180. But he was quick and aggressive, hustling all over the court for loose balls, blocked shots, and rebounds. He could handle the ball well for a big man and was an excellent passer. Boeheim liked having him out there because the offense ran more efficiently with him on the court. I think he played as much center as he did not only because of the failure of our centers to stay healthy or develop but because Jim wanted to be able to put Marek on the court and still play his other forwards. He was overpowered inside by teams that had strong big men but he could also try to draw those guys from the basket where he could out-maneuver them. He one weakness in his game was a reluctance to shoot the ball. He could hit a medium range jumper and it would have opened everything else up for his drives and passes but he rarely pulled the trigger. But what he will be best remembered for is his courage. He took on 6-7 285 pound Zion Williamson to draw a charge in a game where we beat the #1 ranked Blue Devils in their place in overtime. Last year, he got hit in the mouth and had a front tooth broken off. After clearing most of the blood from his mouth, Boeheim told him “It’s only a tooth” and he re-entered and played the rest of the game. He could have come back as a super-senior but returned home and signed with a pro team, BC Ternopil of the Ukrainian Basketball Super League. Good luck to him. If he’d stayed we probably would have had another year of a forward playing center while the true centers watched from the bench. I’d kind of like to see what those centers can do this year.

Alan Griffin 6-5 190

Griffin was an intriguing mystery man last year. He’d transferred in from Illinois, where he’d put up some big numbers per 40 minutes:
19.8p 10.0r 1.4a 1.0s 0.5b positives: 32.7 7.3mfg 0.4mft 1.7to 2.5pf negatives: 11.9 = NET: +20.8
That’s playing at an All-American level. Amazingly, he wasn’t the starter. He was behind an established star, Avo Dosunmu, who had similar numbers except for the rebounds and a couple other established players, Andres Feliz and Trent Frazier, who were said to be better defensive players. That was a red flag but still, if Griffin could put up numbers anywhere near that for us, he would be an enormous addition.

Early on, that’s exactly what he seemed to be. He had 92 points and 39 rebounds in his first five games. Then he had a game where he played 24 minutes and failed to score, getting 4 rebounds. The next game he scored 24 points, had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks, one of which saved the game. He loved to trail the play on the other team’s fast break, catch up to the ball and swat it away from behind using his speed and leaping ability. He remained the team’s most statistically productive player most of the season, (vying with fellow forward Quincy Guerrier), but there was a 5 point, 3 rebound game against Miami, 5 and 4 against Notre Dame, 4 and 4 against North Carolina. Jim Boeheim seemed hesitant to praise him after his good games, suggesting that he was not entirely pleased with his new star. As late as the last game in the regular season, Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Clemson.

In the post season, he seemed not to be interested and Boeheim had little patience with him. Griffin played pretty well against North Carolina State in the first round of the ACCT scoring 13 points, pulling down 8 rebounds and passing for 5 assists. But in the remaining four games, he played just 51 minutes, shot 1 for 13 from the field, scored 8 points and had 3 rebounds. Boeheim had Braswell on the court in his place during most of our run and it was no surprise to anybody when Griffin didn’t come back here for his senior year. He declared for the draft but went undrafted. He was last seen playing for the Los Angeles Lakers summer league team. He scored 10 points in 3 games. He just kept getting smaller and smaller until he just disappeared.

View attachment 209478
(from 'The Incredible Shrinking Man', 1957)

Quincy Guerrier 6-7 220

Quincy came here from Canada, just as Oshae Brissett, who is starting to make a name for himself with the NBA’s Indian Pacers, was. Guerrier has constantly compared himself to Brissett since he came here, insisting that the big difference is that he had a better jump shot. In high school, he was mostly a perimeter player. He hasn’t been Brissett, who was more athletic, and he hasn’t been a perimeter player, either. He was 3 for 24 from the arc his first season and improved that to 23 of 74 last year, which is still a mediocre 31%. What he was was our strongest player and Jim Boeheim wanted him working inside. Against the early season teams, he was able to dominate. In our first 15 games, Quincy averaged 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds, with 7 double-doubles. When we started playing ACC front lines, at 6-7 and not really a leaper, he found himself, using a Matt Park term, “getting roofed” by taller players. He also was hobbled by some injuries sustain in those paint wars down the stretch as his performance in the remaining 13 games fell to 10.3p/7.2r.

Still, people where surprised when he left the team, first looking to the NBA draft but then putting himself in the transfer portal, winding up at Oregon. There were rumors that he felt Boeheim wasn’t allowing him to be the perimeter player he wanted to be and, at 6-7, might have to be to play in the NBA. Athlon lists him third in their article on “Transfers to Watch”, saying it might mean a third straight Pac-12 title for the Ducks. Per the article on Oregon, they have plenty of shooters and are looking for Quincy to provide “toughness in the post”. Good luck, Q!

One of our problems last year was that our front line went 6-5, a skinny 6-10 and 6-7. This year we might go 6-9, 6-11, 6-9. In a zone, that can be a big difference.

Woody Newton 6-8 200

Woody came in last year advertising himself as “the nation’s #1 lock-down defender”. I liked the attitude: to play defense, you’ve got to be committed to it. He also had pretty good offensive skills and good size. He had a nice run early in the season, a four-game stretch in which he scored 33 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in 60 minutes of play. Everyone was excited by his potential. The rest of the year he played 27 minutes, scored 5 points and had 2 rebounds. Then he left for Oklahoma State. There was talk he got hit hard by Covid but that wouldn’t explain the transfer. You wonder why he didn’t see everybody else leaving and stay. Athlon says, in their Oklahoma State article, “they’ll be deep and talented”. Lindy’s says of Newton that he “hopes for more playing time”.

They’re all gone. So Jim Boeheim and his staff had to get “deep and talented” in a hurry. They did pretty well in the ‘talented’ part but I have concerns about ‘deep.’


The Current Group:

Jimmy Boeheim 6-9 225 super senior

Jimmy is the older brother of Buddy Boeheim. He spent his first three years playing for Cornell and didn’t play at all last year because the Ivy League canceled their season due to the pandemic. Then he decided to join his father and brother under the Dome, creating fantasies of the three of them, (and Julie), cutting down the nets as they all go off into the sunset: Jim into retirement, Buddy on to the NBA and Jimmy to whatever. JB takes a dim view of this, (and of other fan fiction). Even if that doesn’t happen, the media loves family stories and coach-sons relationships so you’ll be hearing a lot about the Boeheims this year.

Jimmy is a good college forward. I don’t know how much of an NBA prospect he is but I just heard a radio interview, with Mike Waters, who covers the team for the local paper, who says that Jimmy might start at forward ahead of lauded recruit Benny Williams, because of his experience at this level and because his father is the coach. People accused JB of nepotism with Buddy until he exploded at the end of last season. That silenced them and left the question of whether JB would start his son over a more qualified player unanswered. That debate could be rejoined this year, although I expect all three of the primary forwards to play.

At Cornell, Jimmy, (who was listed as 6-8 215, so he’s grown a bit), started out as a part-time player and grew into an Ivy league star: Jimmy Boeheim College Stats | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com

Per 40 minutes:
Freshman: 10.7p 7.5r 1.7a 0.1s 0.8b positive: 20.8, 8.5mfg 1.0mft 1.3to 3.6pf negative: 14.4 NET: +6.4
Sophomore: 19.8p 5.5r 1.6a 0.8s 0.7b positive: 28.4, 8.4mfg 1.4mft 2.1to 2.7pf negative: 14.6 NET: +13.8
Junior: 21.8p 7.3r 2.5a 0.9s 0.4b positive: 32.9, 10.6mfg 3.7mft 2.5to 1.9pf negative: 18.7 NET: +14.2

It’s interesting that, on an Ivy League level, he was a bigger scorer than Cole Swider, (see below). He shot 50.3% on two point shots, 29.5% on three point shots and 71.6% from the line. As a junior he shot 35.0% from three. I think on this team, he’ll take fewer threes because we have firepower elsewhere and focus more on going to the basket and making those two-pointers. Here are the closest things to highlight films that we have on Jimmy:

Against Coppin State, a lower-level Division 1 team:

Jimmy Boeheim Cornell Big Red 25 PTS 17 REBS vs Coppin State Eagles | Next Ones

Against Syracuse, an upper-level Division 1 team, (we hope):

Cornell VS. Syracuse Condensed Game | 2019-20 ACC Men's Basketball

Jimmy, (#3 in those highlights: he’ll be #0 here, for some reason), has a strong motor and some good moves to the basket. He can hit the long one but he’s more of a jack-of-all-trades than a gunner. He always played well against Syracuse. In his first game as a freshman he scored 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, his only double-figure scoring of the season. The next year he had 9 points, 6 rebs and 4 assists and as a junior he had 25/2/2. The Coppin State game was the next one and he had 25/17/2 in that one.

There’s been some suggestion that Jimmy could perform a Marek-like roll on this years team: playing center while our still-not-ready centers sit and watch. That seems unlikely due to the apparent depth at center and lack of depth at forward. He’s more likely to be in a rotation with Cole Swider and Benny Williams.

Chaz Owens 6-5 200 sophomore

Chaz is the son of former SU great Billy Owens. But he is not Billy Owens. It’s been suggested that the was a ‘legacy recruit’, just given a scholarship because of his relationship to his father. Last year he played for a total of 2 minutes in 2 games. Those were his only stats. But looks like a guy who can play in these highlight films:

CHAZ OWENS Highlights (Shipley School c/o 2019, Team PYO AAU)

Chaz Owens

CHAZ OWENS season opener HIGHLIGHTS (SHIPLEY SCHOOL c/o 19)

Here is what I wrote last year: “He can shoot and he can dunk. He dribbled to set up one shot and had a nice scoop shot on a drive to the basket. His father has taught him to ward off defenders on his drive and to keep the ball on the other side of his body…I predict there will be a game in his career here where we will have to rely on him and he'll come through for a big win.” He was listed as a guard last year so that’s where I put him in my review. He’s now listed as a forward. He’s the one true swing-man we have: a guy who, in a pinch, could help us in the front-court or the backcourt. Buddy Boeheim is 6-6 but he’s more purely a guard.

Cole Swider 6-9 225 senior

Cole was heavily recruited by Syracuse coming out of high school but he went to Villanova, where he didn’t quite fit in. He was the first guy Jim and the staff brought in after the mass exodus at this position.

He was a four-star recruit, rated #44 nationally by 247 and the #9 power forward, much higher than anyone we lost.

SI: “Cole Swider is an elite shooter, but he is not just that. Swider was a prolific three point shooter in high school and that translated to his time at Villanova. He shot over 40% from the outside last season. Swider, however, has other elements to his game. He can hit the mid-range shot, attack off the dribble and finish around the rim. Swider has added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame with the Wildcats and is up to 225-pounds. That allows him to be physical inside, play in the post at times and also score through contact. His body type and strength could allow him to play in the middle of the zone if Syracuse elects to go small at times. Similar to how the Orange used Tyler Lydon. Swider has a better handle than most would think and is also a solid passing forward. As a rebounder, Swider is not afraid to mix it up inside. He shows solid rebounding instincts, so his numbers on the boards should improve with a more consistent role.”

Orangefizz: “Swider is crafty at finding open passing lanes, where teammates can locate him from behind the arc for open threes. He’s also terrific in transition and is able to sprint past transitioning defenders for easy buckets. While he’s not the quickest player on the court, Swider is solid at finding openings within a defense, and moves very well without the ball. This past season there were plenty of moments where Syracuse’s off-ball offensive players simply stood around, waiting for a dribbler to create shots. Swider doesn’t do that. Instead, he rotates well and moves into passing lanes. At 225 pounds, Swider has the size and bulk that Syracuse is lacking. While he’s best in catch and shoot opportunities, Swider will also back down smaller defenders into the paint when there is a size mismatch. Once he’s on the low blocks, the junior likes to utilize an easy hook shot to score over his defender.”

With a transfer, you always wonder why they transferred and why things didn’t work out at their own school. (I’m sure Charlotte, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Seton Hall are wondering about our guys.)

Nunes: “Q: Cole Swider had plenty of hype around him out of high school but didn’t seem to hit that potential at Villanova. What do you think was the main reason(s) for that? A, (from Chris Lane at VU Hoops): It’s a tough one. He looked like a perfect fit for Villanova when he signed, but it just never really clicked for him under Jay Wright. I’d argue that he finally took a major step forward on the offensive end this season, but the athletic/defensive shortcomings limited his ability to become a major contributor. Offensively he’s on the scouting report for the shooting but never fully developed other parts of his offensive game. And despite that good size, he was never really a threat to score in the paint. Jay Wright’s offense is another factor here. He leans heavily on skilled player that can create their own shot, as well as create for others. Swider never really showed an ability to do either and mostly required others to get his shots for him. I don’t think that offensive style and his skillset ever really fit together well.”

On his defense: “Swider is limited athletically compared to a lot of the guys he was going up against every night in the Big East. That won’t change with a move to the ACC. He’s a fighter on the boards and always give s 100%, but he can be -- and often was — targeted defensively because he doesn’t have the feet to stay in front of many players on the perimeter. It reached the point late in the season at Villanova where there were games he just couldn’t play in because of bad matchups. Obviously with the zone at Syracuse, they should be able to hide him a bit more… Villanova’s switch-heavy defense left him exposed in a mismatch a lot, and he could get lost and into scramble mode fairly easily against teams that attacked and required the defense to help and rotate. That shouldn’t happen much if at all in the zone. At 6’9” he’s got really good size as well and should be able to contribute on the defensive glass.”

That doesn’t seem like the same player SI and Orangefizz talked about. The Daily Orange asked Cole why he transferred: “The work ethic followed him to Nova, but the opportunities didn’t. Although his mindset on the game mirrored Jay Wright’s program, his offense-first playing style subverted him to a reserve role. The sharpshooter averaged 4.4 field goal attempts per game in his three seasons with the Wildcats. When he noticed a logjam in Villanova’s frontcourt due to every player receiving an extra year of eligibility, he knew it was time for a change.” He was part of the rotation but never quite became 20 minutes a game player for Jay Wright:

Cole Swider College Stats | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com
Per 40 minutes:
Freshman: 14.5p 5.2r 2.4a 0.6s 0.2b positive: 22.9, 8.0mfg 1.4mft 1.8to 5.2pf negative: 16.4 NET: +6.5
Sophomore: 13.1p 6.4r 1.3a 0.4s 0.7b positive: 21.9, 6.4mfg 2.1mft 1.7to 3.6pf negative: 13.8 NET: +8.1
Junior: 12.0p 5.8r 2.3a 1.1s 0.2b positive: 21.4, 5.6mfg 0.3mft 0.8to 2.6pf negative: 9.3 NET: +12.1

He’s improved overall. His scoring has actually declined but he’s also missed fewer shots. His three point shooting has steadily improved, (28% to 40%), but his two-point shooting actually declined last year from 61% to 50%. He wasn’t a good free throw shooter until last year (75%). He can rebound but isn’t a terror on the boards. He’s not much of a shot-blocker despite being 6-9 but that could change in a zone.

I love his highlight tape, (which is from 2019-20):

2019-20: Cole Swider Villanova Wildcats 2019-20 Highlight Montage

Yes, it’s a highlight tape and all the shots go in but he looks like an NBA player to me. Quick, smooth release, able to create his own shot and drive to the basket, back a guy down off the dribble. It’s all offensive but he looks like he could be a very good player for us.

Both Swider and Boeheim are seniors but could return next year as ‘super seniors’ under the Covid rules: If Jimmy Boeheim transfers, when can he play and how many years will he have left? (Mike’s Mailbox)

But still, it’s important for JB to bring in some forwards in his next recruiting class.

Benny Williams 6-8 215 freshman

Benny is our first 5 star recruit in quite a while, (although, checking 247, he’s now a 4 star, probably because he chose us). He was ranked the 31st best recruit in the country and the 6th best small forward. People have tended to assume he would start immediately but word from inside the program suggests that he might find himself behind Jimmy Boeheim. It really doesn’t matter. With three legitimate forwards, they will all play a lot, splitting up 80 minutes a game.

247: “Has positive length for a combo forward. Is thin, however, and needs to build up mass and strength. A high leaper with athleticism. Can struggle to utilize athleticism against contact and while in traffic. Has a great shooters touch. Finishes well on the move going to the basket. Is a reliable three-point shooter. Has potential to really extend his range. Not necessarily a nifty ball handler, but Williams is a reliable handler and can see the floor and distribute while on the move. Is a straight line driver who likes to utilize a crossover early in the drive. Has potential has a versatile defender and overall rebounder. Developing physical strength and toughness is vital.”

Some highlights:

5 STAR SYRACUSE COMMIT! | 6'8 Benny Williams of IMG Academy | Full #BIGSHOTS Highlights

5-Star Benny Williams DUNKED EVERYTHING! Full Myrtle Beach Mix

Special Recruiting Breakdown of Benny Williams

He seems to have all the skills you’d want and to have an “isn’t it fun to be me” attitude. He enjoys the game and how he can play it. When I first heard that we were recruiting Benny Williams I noted that, since we were bringing in Woody Newton, they as forwards would make a refreshing change from all the foreign names we’d had to learn how to pronounce. But having seen Woody last year and looking at Williams, I think they would have made a heck of a pair of forwards for us in the years to come. Too bad Woody couldn’t have looked around and seen that everyone else was leaving and decided to stay. With Jimmy Boeheim and Cole Swider being seniors, Williams and Newton could have played a lot this year and taken over the position next. As it is, we’ve got a potentially strong rotation of three forwards. But if anyone gets injured, (and too many have in recent years for SU), the situation here could get pretty thin in a hurry.
For the record, Benny stated twice in an interview this summer that he's 6'9" now.
Our forward rotation features three 6'9" guys this season.
I think we'll be a decent rebounding team this year...
 

SoBristol

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Again, as with the centers, this long summary would be improved by mention of actual observations of Benny and Jimmy from last Friday. 247 says Benny is thin and needs to build strength - was that the case on Friday? If he is really 6ft 9in and 215 LBs, maybe 247 is old news?

A major change for this season is having more size (not only height) at center and the forward spots. The team should reduce easy inside finishes and put backs.
 

SWC75

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Again, as with the centers, this long summary would be improved by mention of actual observations of Benny and Jimmy from last Friday. 247 says Benny is thin and needs to build strength - was that the case on Friday? If he is really 6ft 9in and 215 LBs, maybe 247 is old news?

A major change for this season is having more size (not only height) at center and the forward spots. The team should reduce easy inside finishes and put backs.


I wasn't there Friday and I took the heights and weights from the Cuse.com's roster. I notice they have changed Benny's weight to 208 but still list him as 6-8. Jimmy Boeheim is back to 6-8, too. It's still an improvement over last year.

 

cliftonparksufan

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I was looking "forward" to this write up the most and feel you nailed it. I think some people are underestimating Junior's basketball IQ and ability. I also can't wait for the Benny Williams unveiling. I am most looking forward to his versatility on the court. And to me, Swider is the wild card. He looks similar in appearance and size to Georges Niang who played at Iowa State. A power forward who is more of a perimeter sniper. I'm not saying Swider will be an All American and win the Karl Malone award as the nation's top PF as Niang did but if there are games he scores 15-18 points with 6 or so boards I think we are in good shape.
 

SoBristol

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I wasn't there Friday and I took the heights and weights from the Cuse.com's roster. I notice they have changed Benny's weight to 208 but still list him as 6-8. Jimmy Boeheim is back to 6-8, too. It's still an improvement over last year.

Understood. I feel the posters who were there on Friday are reliable sources, and have the benefit of recent observations. Some of your quoted material from 247 or summer publications — well, take it for what it is worth.
 

AlaskaSU

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"would start his son (Jimmy) over a more qualified player (Benny)"? Jimmy is more qualified. Benny is more highly rated coming out of HS.
 

littlereg

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I was looking "forward" to this write up the most and feel you nailed it. I think some people are underestimating Junior's basketball IQ and ability. I also can't wait for the Benny Williams unveiling. I am most looking forward to his versatility on the court. And to me, Swider is the wild card. He looks similar in appearance and size to Georges Niang who played at Iowa State. A power forward who is more of a perimeter sniper. I'm not saying Swider will be an All American and win the Karl Malone award as the nation's top PF as Niang did but if there are games he scores 15-18 points with 6 or so boards I think we are in good shape saw an interview the other day with Niang and went down a rabbit hole of hilights from his time in Hilton
This is funny because I was watching an interview Sunday night with Niang and it brought me down a YouTube hole of his highlights at JUCO and in Hilton and I remembered how much I loved his play. Those were some fun teams out there with the Mayor for a few years with Niang, Monte Morris, Etc. They killed in the Tranfser portal before it was the portal. Niang, Deonte Burton, Jameel McKay, Abdel Nader, Naz Long, etc all transfers.
 

CuseFaninVT

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"would start his son (Jimmy) over a more qualified player (Benny)"? Jimmy is more qualified. Benny is more highly rated coming out of HS.
How do you determine qualification? This is both their first year playing zone at SU. Jimmy has seen it more, and probably had to study his dad's book on it, but he will still have an adjustment period just like Benny. Jimmy has experience at the college level although it was at a lower level. Ivy's are decent, but they aren't ACC.

Benny played a higher level HS ball, and is more athletic by all accounts.

Shooting wise, I think they both are works in progress, and I honestly have no idea who has the higher ceiling at this point. Jimmy should benefit from having other shooters around. Would be nice if we had success driving the ball so that Jimmy's defender could help and give him an open look.

Adding all things up, I see Jimmy as slightly more 'qualified' at this point, but Benny should catch up quickly as the season plays out.
 

cliftonparksufan

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This is funny because I was watching an interview Sunday night with Niang and it brought me down a YouTube hole of his highlights at JUCO and in Hilton and I remembered how much I loved his play. Those were some fun teams out there with the Mayor for a few years with Niang, Monte Morris, Etc. They killed in the Tranfser portal before it was the portal. Niang, Deonte Burton, Jameel McKay, Abdel Nader, Naz Long, etc all transfers.
I assume you mean Iowa St and Tilton but he never played JUCO. Yes he was a NE kid, who I'm not sure if we recruited, but maybe he was thought to be too slow covering the corner three. He did turn into a great shooter and hopefully Swider will emulate his game.
 

AlaskaSU

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Gone back and forth on who starts at forward, but with Swiders injury I wonder if this gives JB the opportunity to start both Jimmy and Benny while making Cole the 6th man.
From most accounts both Jimmy and Benny are better at creating their own shots than Cole. They both probably have a better handle. Jimmy scored about 20 pts against us. He is a versatile scorer. I don't envision Cole putting up 20 pts.
 

SWC75

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Understood. I feel the posters who were there on Friday are reliable sources, and have the benefit of recent observations. Some of your quoted material from 247 or summer publications — well, take it for what it is worth.


That's the spirit of anything I post. And the posters who were there posted their observations already. I did look through that thread but saw no reason to add any more than I did to my own preview.
 

Cusefan0307

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From most accounts both Jimmy and Benny are better at creating their own shots than Cole. They both probably have a better handle. Jimmy scored about 20 pts against us. He is a versatile scorer. I don't envision Cole putting up 20 pts.

Cole's role on offense will be similar to Southerlands IMO. He might be able to do slightly more inside.
 

Zelda Zonk

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Fantastic, comprehensive writeup.

It hasn't even been that long, but it's weird to think of what we'd be if Quincy had stayed.

Swider is intriguing. Seems to be capable of significant production, yet wasn't really impressive enough for Jay Wright. I think he'll do very well for us. I can't even imagine the shooting exhibitions in practice, between him, Buddy, and JG. We have three guys who really can shoot it. Have we ever had two guys at once as proficient as Buddy and Cole?

I'm trying not to get my hopes up with Benny. I expect he'll be 'okay,' and he'll be a three-year guy, and a star as a Junior.
 

CuseFaninVT

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I'm trying not to get my hopes up with Benny. I expect he'll be 'okay,' and he'll be a three-year guy, and a star as a Junior.
That was my attitude with the PG that was previously here. I never bought into the hype and was pleasantly surprised with his reality. I'm adopting the same posture about Benny.
 

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