Talk about a season-altering injury.
Last Tuesday night during the Syracuse Orange’s 73-64 win against the Boston College Eagles, right before securing their fourth straight win in a row, Jesse Edwards fouled out of the game after colliding with forward Jaden Zackery in an attempt to block a shot. Initially, nobody thought anything of it.
He told Syracuse athletic trainer, Brad Pike, following the game that he felt soreness in his non-shooting wrist. The next day, Edwards had an MRI which found that he had a fracture in his left wrist. The following day Jim Boeheim announced that the junior, in the midst of a breakout season, was done for the year.
Edwards was arguably the most important player for the Orange this season outside of senior guard Buddy Boeheim. Through 24 games played, Edwards averaged 12 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.1 steals, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 69.1% from the field. All of Edwards counting stats this season were career highs for the Netherlands-based forward. Regardless of the up and down season the Orange have had thus far, Edward’s season-ending injury has to be the biggest blow to Syracuse yet.
Even though Edwards is tied for the highest amount of personal fouls in the entire NCAA with 90 over the course of his season fouling out of 11 total games, Syracuse still found a way to win 6 out of those 11 games. Without Edwards on the floor for the Orange, who knows how many games the team would’ve without him.
Syracuse currently sits 13-12 after 25 games with a 7-7 conference record with only seven games left in the year. Going into this last stretch of the regular season, Syracuse desperately needs somebody to fill the void Edwards left behind.
Hopefully that somebody could be sophomore big man Frank Anselem. Anselem before Edwards's injury through 24 games averaged 2.5 points, 3 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.3 blocks while shooting 64.5% from the field and 61.8% from the charity stripe through 11.4 minutes per contest.
In Anselm’s first start following Edward's injury, the Nigerian big man put up 6 points, 15 rebounds, and 1 block while shooting 50% from the field and 100% from the free-throw line in a season-high 36 minutes.
Jim Boeheim had nothing but praise for Anselem in his first start of the season in the post-game press conference following Saturday's loss.
“You know he's not gonna score a lot but he sets good screens, he moves without the ball, and his defense was good he rebounded the ball that’s what he had to do and he did a tremendous job there,” He said.
Boeheim also noted in a response to a separate question that it will take some time for Anselem to adjust to the increased playing time but he appreciated his effort going after rebounds, always jumping and putting in the necessary effort.
Anselem also did a great job cutting to the basket on the pick and roll, although he was ignored by Virginia Tech’s defense. Syracuse’s guards recognizing these cuts and finding Anselem in the paint going forward will be key in terms of moving forward in a productive way with Edwards on the bench for the remainder of the season.
Hopefully, this offensive strategy is seen more during this Saturday's home game in the dome against the Boston College Eagles at 12 PM EST.