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Best of Syracuse men’s basketball in 21-22

We make our picks and then it’s your turn

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at Syracuse Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

As we wait for the Syracuse Orange to start play in the ACC Tournament we can look back at some of the highlights of the regular season. Positive vibes only in this one so save the negativity for when we hit the off-season and go back and review what happened.

Now the envelopes please....

Most Valuable Player:

Kevin: Jesse Edwards. We saw what happened to the Orange after Edwards went done with his wrist injury. His presence in the middle on both ends of the floor helped Syracuse stay competitive in most games this year.

Zeke: Buddy Boeheim. He's been the heart and soul of this team all season. Regardless of injuries, Boeheim always played with a sense of urgency while consistently providing fans some memorable moments during his farewell season with Syracuse, leaving an ACC scoring title behind in the process.

Michael: Jesse Edwards. I have to agree with Kevin here. When the offense ran through Jesse, the Orange rattled off some of their largest margins of victory this season.

Szuba: It’s Buddy Boeheim. Bar none. He carried this team at various points, often facing the opposing team’s best defender and sometimes, facing double teams. Despite all of that attention, he still managed to lead the league in scoring and often had to get in the lane and get creative when teams drove him off the three point line. Imagine what he could’ve done had there been an Elijah Hughes type to take some of the pressure off.

Most Improved:

KW: Joe Girard. I’ve been super critical of Girard’s shot selection the last two seasons but he made huge strides this year in this area. For a scorer being forced into a point guard spot

Zeke: Cole Swider. After a rough start adjusting to an increased role at Syracuse Swider went on to become a diverse scorer and strong rebounder for the Orange in his single year playing under Jim Boeheim.

Michael: Joe Girard. The guy shot over 40% from deep this year. I think that speaks for itself.

Szuba: Well, considering Jesse Edwards was in the running for most improved in the league, I’ll go with the obvious. Edwards improved in leaps and bounds. His soft touch and finishing around the rim was imperative for a perimeter-oriented team, he relived so much defensive pressure with Girard in the pick and roll and his defense has been sorely missed. He was a different player this year.

Best Game:

KW: Home against Wake Forest. A Saturday night home game with the Antetokounmpo brothers courtside. The Orange put on a dazzling offensive display in a game that harkened back to the late 80s.

Zeke: Home against Indiana. A Tuesday night thriller that went to double overtime capped off with two Girard clutch free-throws, I don't think it gets any sweeter than that.

Michael: Home against Indiana. Doubling down on the double overtime thriller, it felt like the Syracuse basketball I had been used to for many years: battling back and forth against a legitimate opponent and coming in clutch when it counts.

Szuba: Indiana takes the cake but I’ll go with the road win at Florida State just by how Syracuse won. Buddy Boeheim was taken out of it and the remaining starters all stepped up with double-figure scoring while Edwards had a double-double. Meanwhile, Syracuse forced Florida State out of its comfort zone by making them take 3s. It seemed like the best team win of the season and Swider made clutch free throws late.

Best Performance:

KW: Cole Swider at UNC. 36 points on 14-21 shooting, 7-11 from 3. This came after Swider’s worst game of the year and was one point from the UNC opponent single-game record.

Zeke: Jesse Edwards against Clemson at home. Edwards dominated in this game collecting 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks while shooting 66.7% from the field. Although he fouled out after 34 minutes, Syracuse was able to get the win in dominant fashion.

Szuba: Honorable mention for Girard’s game at NC State and the Boeheims vs. Indiana, but it’s Swider at UNC.

Best Play:

KW: Anyone who ever met Kelly Seubert knows that Syracuse lost a special person when she passed away. It’s hard not to think that she was helping this shot from her son Chris LaValle from her spot above the Dome.

Zeke: Simple-effective basketball is the best-looking basketball to this writer. A post-up Jimmy Boeheim drawing the double only to throw a crisp wrap-around pass to Jesse Edwards for a dunk looked as smooth as butter.

Szuba: Symir Torrence had a swaggy reverse layup at Duke and Benny Williams had one at home. But I’ll give it to Jesse Edwards for this behind the back dime after an offensive rebound in Cameron.

Favorite Jim Boeheim Sideline Look:

KW: No contest. It’s the white script Syracuse crewneck. Take our money and start selling these.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Syracuse Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Zeke: Contrary to Kevin, the black script Cuse crewneck is the winner for me. Let's make a whole bunch of money off a combo of the deal of the black and white crewnecks together for under $110 before next season.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Szuba: Agree, Kevin. I was partial to the crewneck at UNC.

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images


Now it’s your turn. What stands out in your mind in these particular categories? Let us know in the comment section below.