The Syracuse Orange’s already depleted roster took a hit yesterday as coach Jim Boeheim announced that freshman guard Howard Washington would be out for the remainder of the year. With Washington out, the Orange are left with seven healthy rotation players this season, leaving Jim Boeheim quite the challenge to lead this team to the Big Dance (despite the coach’s typically short benches) .
With Washington gone, Syracuse is going to need to find someone who can give Tyus Battle and Frank Howard a little breather here and there, and that guy seems to be Braedon Bayer, a junior guard who was given a scholarship this year after first being a walk on.
Coach Boeheim had some interesting things to say after the loss to Georgia Tech about Bayer joining the rotation.
"We'll do that," coach Boeheim said in regards to Bayer getting more minutes. "We’ll have to do that. We had enough time off for this game, but Saturday-Monday, he’ll play. He’ll play in those games.’’
Bayer is averaging 0.7 points per game this year in just three appearances, but the next couple of games will truly show if this one=time walk-on can compete at the highest collegiate level.
"Braedon's pretty good; I should've probably used him tonight the way we ended up playing," coach Boeheim said on what Bayer's insertion into the rotation means. "He's not bad, he can go in and play for us."
Washington wasn't providing the Orange much offensive action (1.1 points a game), but he did have the ability to come in for a few minutes and maintain the pace of play on offense. Bayer's first taste of real action won't be an easy one as the second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers come into the Carrier Dome this Saturday.
If Bayer is able to give the dynamic backcourt of Howard and Battle even a small moment of rest, he will have done his job well. However, that is a lot to ask of from a player that hasn't seen more than two minutes in a game this year.
The loss to Georgia Tech is a knock (or more, a missed opportunity) on Syracuse's resume, but they have a chance to make up for it if they're able to win a few of the top 25 matches they have ahead of them. Beating the top ACC teams won't be easy, but Bayer can help the Orange find a way, even if just by helping Battle and Howard keep some fresher legs..