It's not a stretch to say that Fab is Syracuse's most important player. Scratch that. It's a fact. He is the most important. This team is built for speed. It's built to take the ball away and get easy buckets. And all of it is built around the fact that Fab owns the middle of the zone. It's his casa. What shots he doesn't block he usually alters. And that's assuming opponents get a shot off at all. He takes charges like nobody's business. None of the bigs remaining on the roster can do that half as well a Fab does. He's the lynchpin of the defense. Without him, as we saw during the earlier suspension, Syracuse is not the same team that won 31 games in 33 tries.
When Fab was told to stay home, chances are that Syracuse's shot at a title run stayed with him. If Boeheim's squad is going to salvage this tournament from the ashes, they have one chance and one chance only. They need to ride Dion Waiters.
All season this squad has won on the strength of team basketball on both ends of the floor. With Fab gone, that goes out the window. The Orange are missing their eraser at the rim, which will reduce the amount of turnovers they can force and the scoring chances that come with those turnovers. Without a comparable replacement, the only option Syracuse has to to just flat out score more points. Dion is the best suited to shoulder that load. He showed in the Big East tournament that he can make plays when they matter. No, he's not going to sho0t 70% from 3 for six games, but he can score on pretty much anyone at any time. He needs to be aggressive. He needs to apply pressure. He needs to play the smart, efficient ball that had us hailing him as the best player in the Big East during the middle of the season. Everyone else on the squad will have their piece to play for sure. But with Fab gone, this is no longer a group of individuals that is greater than the sum of its parts. It's a team that has to play as if there's nothing to lose. Dion is the perfect guy to lead that charge.