Coming into the 2019-20 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season, depth was purported to be a strength of this team. The talent was debatable, but the depth was there.
With five scholarship guards in the back-court along with four capable forwards and three centers in the front-court, Jim Boeheim had options.
That changed slightly in the early season when freshman center John Bol Ajak took a redshirt year and when Jalen Carey underwent thumb surgery after only two games. Without Ajak and Carey, Syracuse was down to 10 scholarship players.
Injuries crept up toward the end of non-conference play, as Howard Washington experienced swelling in his knee, which kept him from competing in the North Florida and Niagara games.
Freshman center Jesse Edwards also missed the last two non-conference games, with Boeheim citing the need for a mobile center to stretch to the corners on defense in the former and an Edwards sprained ankle in the latter.
Following the Niagara game, Boeheim said he doesn’t expect Carey back this season. Syracuse was hopeful to have both Edwards and Washington back in practice on Monday. With Brycen Goodine struggling, Boeheim says he isn’t worried about the lack of depth at guard as Elijah Hughes can play the point spot to spell Joe Girard. He also expects Washington back to full.
“He can play the point,” Boeheim said of Hughes. “He was good there, made some really good plays. So I’m not too concerned about that. I think Howard will be back full speed.”
Syracuse might take another hit to its depth as sophomore forward Robert Braswell could take a medical redshirt. Braswell has battled pain in both of his legs. To qualify for a medical redshirt, Braswell can not compete in more than 30 percent of Syracuse’s games. Having played in seven contests this season, Braswell can not play in more than two games, or in any game past the mid-way point, to qualify for a medical redshirt.
Syracuse’s top four players have been reliable this year, but the Orange will need some help from its bench to have success in the ACC. SU has only had 26 points from its bench in its last three games.
Getting Washington and Edwards back to health will be key. If Goodine can play the way he’s capable, that’d be a big lift. But getting Quincy Guerrier up to speed will be as important as anything for the Syacuse bench.
“Jesse has shown some good signs until he got hurt and Howard has done some good things. So we think those guys will be back and try to get them ready and try to work with Quincy and Brycen to get them better. That’s what our goal is,” Boeheim said.