In the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball win over the Miami Hurricanes, sophomore center Jesse Edwards emerged with a season-high seven points and a career-high six rebounds. The Orange were once again without senior Bourama Sidibe, who went down in the season-opener with a torn meniscus. Sidibe hasn’t been practicing recently.
After Marek Dolezaj picked up his second foul just six minutes into the game, Jim Boeheim turned to the 6-foot-11 Edwards, who provided strong minutes on both ends of the floor. Boeheim described Edwards as “monstrous” and said it was by far the best he’s played at Syracuse.
“He played good position. I thought he had a chance to block a few more shots but that’ll come. I just thought he was a presence out there. His size helps. We caught him inside on a roll for a dunk and he made a nice little shot. He showed a lot of promise tonight,” Boeheim said post-game.
Edwards played 23 minutes, the most in a Syracuse uniform, and recorded two steals and a block for good measure. He wasn’t available to media members after the game, but Joe Girard spoke highly of his sophomore counterpart.
“When he’s confident out there and he’s moving around it can really help us, especially if Bourama’s out. It gives us the ability to give Marek some minutes on the bench to rest, to come back in and fuel him. But Jesse, he was a game-changer tonight,” Girard opined.
Girard said he’s seen Edwards working out with assistant coach Allen Griffin before and after practice. During halftime of Tuesday’s game, Griffin spent extra time talking with Edwards on the sideline. He’s been working diligently with Edwards in practice to improve his conditioning.
“Allen’s been working him really hard to get his conditioning up. When you don’t play it’s hard, you lose some of that conditioning,” Boeheim said. “But Allen’s been really working with him and doing extra work, getting him up and down the court. I think it showed. I think he got up and down better.”
With Sidibe out of practice and not expected back any time soon, the Orange need a solid backup presence at center to combat the rigors of ACC play. Dolezaj has yet to foul out this season but he’s picked up four fouls in back-to-back games. With Edwards commanding the middle against Miami, Dolezaj was allowed to play his natural position at forward.
Edwards has a long way to go to be sure but if he can provide Syracuse reliable minutes at center that would be a big lift going forward in the league. During Edwards’ freshman season he looked to add weight to his frame; he still needs to do more of that.
“We’ve gotta continue to work in the weight room. He’s gotta get stronger. But he has a good feel for the game. He can catch the ball and make shots. He’s just gotta keep working hard. I think he has potential to get a lot better,” Boeheim said.