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Frank Howard emerging as vocal leader of Syracuse basketball

Things have come full circle for Syracuse’s starting point guard.

NCAA Basketball: Cornell at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

In Frank Howard’s 2015-2016 freshman campaign, the point guard position was taken. The Syracuse Orange were led by two fifth-year seniors in its starting backcourt. As a collective, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije had a decade of college basketball experience. The two senior guards at the top of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone parlayed their college basketball swan song into an unthinkable Final Four run for the ages. Given their success and collective experience, Trevor and Mike sucked up most of the minutes at both guard spots.

For Frank, who better to learn from than a redshirt senior that had already been to a Final Four with Syracuse and another that had been coached by the two winningest head coaches in college basketball history?

Syracuse v Dayton
Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Back then as a freshman, Frank was just barely earning minutes in the Syracuse system. While he showed flashes of brilliance that season and many believed he had the talent and length to play in Orange, he would likely have to wait another year for meaningful playing time to open up. Not only that, but the young frosh had to learn what it meant to be a point guard and a leader. There’s no substitute for experience and many times in life there are lessons that only time can teach.

“I think growing up I always had the talent to handle the ball and to make decisions up top but I had to learn how to be a point guard,” Frank said after Syracuse’s win over Georgetown on Saturday, “I had to learn how to lead through emotional times and adversity, how to get what I need from each guy. Just being intact with the whole offense, the defense and just kind of be that coach on the floor. That’s what coach emphasized for me in the offseason. I just wanted to do that and that’s what I want to do every game.”

Profound. Just in Frank’s parlance alone we can see his maturation. There’s more to the game than just x’s and o’s. It takes more than just talent to be successful at this level and to become a leader is to take it another step further.

While Tyus Battle is the alpha scorer of this team, Frank is coming into his own as a vocal leader and he’s taken the lessons he learned from Trev and Mike with him.

“Yeah you know, from both of them. Trev was definitely more of a vocal leader. He definitely had a lot of encouraging words for guys down the stretch,” Frank said, “he always found the right thing to say and that’s kind of what I take from him. And Mike just went out and did it. He lead by example. So that’s what I get from them.”

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Syracuse
Mike and Frank slap hands atop the zone in 2016.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

“I think I’m more vocal. I try to be vocal and just lead(ing) by example by talking but I can’t just run my mouth,” he finished.

With Frank there to lead the charge vocally, he’s now the one bringing the young freshmen along. Oshae Brissett had a breakout performance in the second half against Georgetown, but before he did Frank made sure to be in his ear at the half.

“Yeah I said something to him,” Frank said of Brissett, “it wasn’t crazy but you know it’s just personal.”

He wouldn’t share what he said specifically but that’s neither here nor there. The point was taken.