Syracuse Orange forward Cole Swider put up a career high 36 points in Monday night’s loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. The senior was 14 for 21 from the field before fouling out in overtime and it was quite a turnaround from his worst game on the year on Saturday night when he scored only 2 points.
The Villanova transfer has scored in double-digits in 22 of the Orange’s 30 games this season. His shooting numbers on the season are all above his career marks. Swider is shooting 44.7% from the field and 40.9% from 3 which are both up compared to the 42.4% and 35.7% shooting percentages he had at Villanova. His free throw shooting percentage has gone from 67.5% to 87.5%
It’s not just shooting the basketball that Swider has improved in his 21-22 campaign. He played 1247 minutes for Villanova and had 186 rebounds, 22 steals and 13 blocks. In his 1,035 minutes this season, Swider has 199 rebounds, 30 steals and 11 blocks. While he’s not going to be remembered for his defense by Orange fans, the numbers show he’s been better on the boards than he was for Villanova even in fewer minutes. For a Syracuse team which we knew would have rebounding challenges, his impact has helped keep them from being even worse in that statistic.
Stepping into a starting role meant more opportunities for Cole and while you’d expect his counting stats would increase as his minutes grew, he has delivered better efficiency. Maybe some Syracuse fans expected too much from the transfer but for anyone who watched Swider at Villanova, his performance this year has to be a pleasant surprises.
His Syracuse career might be remembered a bit more fondly in time (or after some successful Boeheim’s Army runs) but Swider’s year reminds me a lot of Andrew White’s. As he prepares to play his final game in the Dome it’s a good time to recognize what he brought to the Orange in a season that didn’t meet expectations.
Update: During his conversation with Donna Ditota, Cole has not ruled out a return to Syracuse.