After Sunday night’s Syracuse Orange win over the NC State Wolfpack Jim Boeheim said he expects Bourama Sidibe to return to action on Wednesday night against the Louisville Cardinals. Sidibe’s been out of action since early in the opener against the Bryant Bulldogs and we’ve heard plenty of conflicting reports about his return.
Bourama Sidibe is here warming up. He returned to practice this week. He’s dunked a few times, but it’s unclear if he’ll play tonight. pic.twitter.com/gVInymDOWP— James Szuba (@JamesSzuba) January 31, 2021
When (and if he’s really available for solid minutes) Sidibe returns it brings a lot of questions. If Jim Boeheim returns to his original starting line-up that would mean Alan Griffin returns to the bench. That takes the Orange’s best offensive player in ACC play off the floor. Were you aware Griffin leads the Orange in points (16.6) and 3-point percentage (40%) and is second in rebounds (7.4) in ACC play? Griffin’s zone defense has been less than stellar but his rebounding and blocked shots have been important to Syracuse.
If you want to keep Griffin as a starter then are you benching Quincy Guerrier or Marek Dolezaj? Yeah, didn’t think so. Griffin is really a shooting guard but we can probably check that off and we’ve seen Griffin’s ball-handling so it’s either small forward or a bench role at this point.
Sidibe would help the rebounding and shifting Marek Dolezaj to the wing would help the defense and help Marek’s ability to contribute on offense since he’s not being asked to handle the middle for forty minutes. It would also eliminate the offensive spacing that the Orange have utilized to be the second-highest scoring team in the ACC. That spacing means it might be harder for Boeheim to go with Kadary Richmond at the point guard with this group as it would put more pressure on Buddy as the lone perimeter threat.
See the dilemma now?
Now this starting group means that the Orange could run Griffin and Richmond in off the bench to match what their opponents bring and that duo at the top of the zone would certainly make it harder for teams to feed the high post as they’ve been doing the last two seasons. Toss Woody Newton into this mix and now you’ve got an influx of defense and athleticism to change the tempo and throw opponents off their game plan.
Does Jim Boeheim see the same thing? Is he locked into Buddy playing 35 minutes per game no matter what? Can he deviate from the zone and press in the first half of games, or when the Orange are ahead? Would he consider playing a five-man unit capable of playing man defense for a few possessions?
It’s certainly fun to speculate, but this is all contingent on Sidibe being more than just a role player himself. If he’s able to handle 20 minutes at the center spot, it gives Syracuse a lot more flexibility but in a year with limited practices is it something you’ll see in the final weeks?
I’d say probably not, however there would be suddenly more directions that Jim Boeheim could turn to in his attempt to steer this roster back into the NCAA Tournament.