clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Point guard is Syracuse basketball’s biggest question heading into next season

Will SU add to depth to the position before next season?

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Syracuse Orange guard Frank Howard (1) handles the ball as Pittsburgh Panthers forward Michael Young (2) defends during the second half at the Petersen Events Center. PITT won 80-75.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse basketball added a point guard recently to its program — the only problem is he - Allen Griffin - is on the coaching staff.

Griffin, who was hired last week by Jim Boeheim, knows a thing or two about playing point guard at SU, but doesn’t have any eligibility left (unfortunately), which means the Orange still has a big question mark heading into next season.

Can Frank Howard lead this team? It’s a team that has a few question marks, but also has two legitimate scorers in Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson who can each go for 20 points on any given night.

However, there’s no bigger issue heading into next season than the point guard position.

Along with Howard in the backcourt will be Tyus Battle, who is a 2-guard, and Howard Washington, a 6-foot-3 incoming freshman.

That’s just two point guards, neither of which have proven themselves yet — although Washington still hasn’t stepped on campus as an SU student.

Howard, who averaged 16.2 minutes per game this past season, had moments where he appeared to be the point guard of the future for the Orange. He opened the season with an 11-point, nine-assist performance in an Orange victory, and dished out double-digit assists in four games this season. Against lesser competition, he flourished — but struggled immensely as the season went on.

In the last 22 games of the season, Howard only scored in double-figures once and didn’t reach five assists in any one game.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

His minutes decreased as John Gillon’s production increased. But Howard didn’t do himself any favors with his poor play, stagnant defense and less-than-stellar attitude on the bench that became a talking point more than once last year.

But as of right now, it’s his team next year. He’s the quarterback.

Now, is that a good or bad thing for Syracuse? Only time will tell.

Howard Washington appears to be a solid four-year player at Syracuse, but expecting a Tyler Ennis like freshman season is unrealistic.

Will the Orange search the graduate transfer market for another point guard? It’s likely, but it’s also unknown if they’ll find anyone worth pursuing.

There’s always Eric Ayala, a Class of 2018 prospect that SU wants to reclassify and enroll for next season — but Ayala remains undecided and more teams continue to enter his recruitment. Oregon offered him a scholarship earlier this week and conducted an in-home visit just days after.

One would have to imagine Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson will be blanketed every game by opponents next season, leaving countless opportunities for others to step up.

As we saw this season, as John Gillon went, so did the Orange. Next season could be similar with Frank Howard.

But is Howard willing to rise to the occasion?