When the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team lines up and runs out from the Carrier Dome locker room tonight it will will mark the final time the team does so at home this season. Leading the front of that line will be senior point guard Frank Howard, who will compete in the dome for the final time in his Syracuse career.
Howard, who has rather remarkably overcome some very difficult circumstances in life just to be at Syracuse, has had his fair share of ups and downs during his four years. He played in a reserve role as a freshman while being part of a team that saw its head coach suspended for nine games, only to advance to the Final Four in 2016. He’s said that the Final Four run was his biggest basketball accomplishment.
Howard came back as Syracuse’s starting point guard as a sophomore, only to be relegated to the bench after dealing with torn muscles in his core and groin. Syracuse failed to make the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
He found redemption as a junior, starting all 37 games for Jim Boeheim as he played the second most minutes in the country at 38.7 per game. He averaged 14.4 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game while helping lead an undermanned Orange squad to the 2018 Sweet 16.
At the beginning of this 2018-19 year, the stars aligned for him to have a great senior season only for it to be derailed by a preseason ankle injury. Howard has still managed to squeeze some juice out of his final season through reinvention — he’s turned himself into primarily a jump-shooter and has shot 34.8 percent from 3 in ACC play.
He’s looked to attack off the bounce more and more as the season has worn on which has yielded mixed results. Still, last week he dished out 13 assists in two games, but it’s taken time for him to round into form.
It’ll take more than an ankle injury to sour Howard’s attitude though. He remains steadfast in his perseverance and continues to focus on the present. When asked about his final game in the Carrier Dome last week, he first mentioned the task at hand as Syracuse begins its run toward March Madness.
“We have a year to finish now but it’s been a lot of ups and downs. Stuff I’ll take with me the rest of my life, you know, learned a lot and matured,” Howard said. “I feel like I had great college experience. It’s something I’ll always remember.”
He’ll have some family in the dome tonight against Virginia, a program that once recruited him. He says loves when his family can watch him play and, “Whenever I got family at the game it helps.”
After Syracuse, Howard wants to continue his playing career. Back at ACC media day in late October, he joked that he wants to be like coach Boeheim one day, to which Boeheim jokingly responded, “You don’t want to be like that.”
But Howard had also said then that he feels like his experience at Syracuse has prepared him not only for basketball but for life. It’s the highs and lows and the fighting through adversity at Syracuse that he feels has most prepared him for his life after college basketball. He says he’s learned to, “just keep fighting, persevering and stuff of that nature.”
Sometimes you can’t control what happens to you, but you can always control how you respond. Life is hard, it’s unfair and at times it can even be cruel. But that still hasn’t stopped Frank.
“Life will hand you lemons, you gotta make lemonade,” Howard finished.
Some might criticize the way he’s done it, but there aren’t too many that would have made this much lemonade. Others would have just felt the squeeze.