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What we learned from Frank Howard’s return to Syracuse basketball

He’s baaaaaaaaaaaack

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

After missing the first four games of the Syracuse Orange basketball season with an injured left ankle, senior point guard Frank Howard returned to the fold last week against Colgate. Howard knocked down his first shot, a three from the wing, and dished out five assists while grabbing three steals.

With that in mind, let’s take a dive into what happened on both ends of the floor in Howard’s return and why he’s important to the team’s success.

Offensive Impact

Frank Howard returned to action for Syracuse as he shot 1-5 from the field with all five of his attempts coming from three. He added five assists and two rebounds in 19 minutes.

Frank Howard knocks down his first three of the season.

Howard was noticeably passive on the offensive end. He didn’t attack off the dribble and didn’t do much cutting when he was away from the ball. As Orange fans were hoping to see Howard make plays and facilitate more movement in the offense, Thursday’s game was not that. This was most evident when Frank used screens as he had opportunities to drive but, instead, pitched the ball back out to continue the rotation.

Howard’s aggressiveness will improve as he becomes more comfortable and gets more court time. He estimates that he’s at 60-70 percent stamina-wise, he told

Defensive Impact

Howard had three steals in his time on the floor. He averaged 1.8 per game last season. I pulled this GIF to show what impact Frank makes on the floor:

Frank Howard extends his defense with the shot clock below five seconds.

Howard recognizes the shot clock is winding down and steps out way behind the three point line to guard Colgate guard Jordan Burns. Burns has nowhere to go and pitches the ball back to the wing. Although Colgate ultimately scores, this play shows the difference Howard can make on the defensive end of the floor. His length, athleticism and, most importantly, his experience will elevate the Syracuse defense moving forward.

Rotation Impact

Howard returned to the Orange starting lineup and played 19 minutes. He was pulled with 12:11 to go in the second half and didn’t return as the game was well in-hand shortly thereafter. Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes were paired with Howard at shooting guard and small forward for all of Howard’s 19 minutes on the floor. Jalen Carey, who had played well in Syracuse’s two previous games, was relegated to the second unit after I speculated that Boeheim may get creative in the way he rolls out his scoring options. Carey was 0-3 from the field with four rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes of play.

This will be an interesting situation to monitor going forward as Carey had shown serious potential on the offensive end during both games of the 2k Empire Classic. It should be noted that Elijah Hughes, whose playing time Carey would cut into most, had a great game as he shot 7-11 from the field with 17 points and six rebounds.

Other Notes

Paschal Chukwu left the game in the first half after just four minutes of playing time with a groin injury. Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj took Chukwu’s place following the injury. Here’s where Paschal went down:

Paschal Chukwu, 13, falls to the floor as he injures his groin.

Chukwu’s availability is unknown going forward. There has been no update on his status.

Syracuse showed their 1-2-2 trapping press six times against Colgate. Out of the six possessions, the Orange forced one turnover, one timeout and allowed two points on 1-2 shooting. This was an improved performance from the Oregon game—albeit against a weaker opponent and in a smaller sample size. Syracuse also used a 2-1-2 soft press to slow down Colgate’s offense.

Oshae Brissett is still good. Though a lid remained on the rim for the forward, he remained aggressive and was crafty with his footwork. Here, Brissett uses a lateral jump stop to split two defenders and create an angle for himself:

Oshae Brissett drives to the basket and scores.

Brissett had a rough night from the field as he shot just 5-15, but he totaled 17 points and nine rebounds. The shooting should get back on track moving forward.

Tyus Battle went full-Mike Gbinije.

Tyus Battle attacks the rim and gets fouled.

We haven’t seen many of these explosions to the rim since the 2015-2016 Final Four team. Tyus Battle goes hard at the rim and, as Gibinije had many times, just missed putting a defender on a poster.

Check back in as we get closer to the game for a preview Syracuse’s matchup with Ohio State including what to watch for, predictions and viewing information.