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Syracuse Basketball: What’s wrong with Frank Howard in big-time games?

Howard has shown obvious struggles this season against marquee opponents.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse
Howard needs to figure out why he struggles against quality opponents.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Another game and another step in the wrong direction for the Syracuse Orange.

Today’s loss was showcased with turnovers, missed free-throws, and terrible performances from the Orange’s “big-time” players. One player in particular who has struggled in marquee games has been Frank Howard, especially in today’s loss.

Howard finished with four points and four assists against Georgetown, while also continuing to struggle taking care of the ball, finishing with six turnovers. Six giveaways from your starting point guard is bound to hinder your chances at winning a basketball game, and with coach Jim Boeheim running the sidelines, Howard is soon to find himself on a shorter leash than before.

Howard has the talent to run this offense and run it well, but his lack of success against tough opponents proves otherwise. In games against weaker teams, Howard is showing a confident style of play, getting to the rim with ease and finding open teammates down low and beyond the arc.

Frank is averaging six points and three assists per game in their four losses this season; adding on to those poor stats, Howard is averaging 2.5 turnovers in those games too, six of the ten coming from today’s loss. The offense runs through the point guard, and with inconsistent play like this from Howard, the Orange won’t see any victories against quality opponents this year.

NCAA Basketball: Boston U at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Orange are lucky to have a deep roster with John Gillon behind Howard, but with Howard being the “veteran” Syracuse guard, the Orange have no time for these struggles from their supposedly reliable guard. Howard is supposed to know the ins and outs of the zone and the offense Boeheim has been running for years, but right now it looks like Howard is returning back to his freshman year struggles.

It’s clear that weaker opponents make life easier for talented athletes, but Howard’s obvious drop-off in results against top teams is a problem for this team’s present status, and their future expectations. The Orange were looked at as lock for the Big Dance this year, but with the recent struggles, anything can happen.

The Orange still have a strong shot to make it to March, and if they do, Howard is going to need to be ready to play like he’s going up against Holy Cross. He is a talented player with an improved jump shot and court vision like no one else on the team, but right now it’s looking like he doesn’t know that.

The season still has many more challenges for Howard to come through, but he needs to figure out what changes for him when facing weaker opponents rather than the games that really “matter.”