At the beginning of this season I made five predictions, and so far I’m shooting 60%, or almost double what Michael Carter-Williams is from the field.
Just to refresh your memory, I had predicted that CJ Fair will average 12 points and 8 boards per game (13.4ppg, 7.2rpg thus far, so unless you want to nitpick I’m taking this one), 4 players will average double digits in scoring (yup), Rakeem Christmas will struggle for meaningful minutes (depends on the game but he’s averaging 22mpg and I predicted closer to 15, so I’ll take the loss here), Michael Carter-Williams will have a 30 point game (ugh), and Brandon Triche will lead the Orange in scoring (nailed it).
I realize complaining about the Nation’s Top Assist guy might seem a little petty, but I really believed he was a better offensive talent than we’ve seen so far. His vision has been great and he’s come up huge in some big moments, but the stroke has not been there all season.
In my explanation as to why he’d go off for 30 points in a game, I wrote, “With the exception of the St. John’s game last season where he scored 13 points in 17 minutes on 5-of-6 shooting, MCW did not get to showcase his talents. He is a multidimensional guard who might be playing point, but has a scorer’s mentality. I believe he’ll go off one night, probably in January against Rutgers or Villanova as the Carrier Dome crowd goes crazy. “
I never would have guessed that his scorer’s mentality would be the biggest potential obstacle in the path of a successful Syracuse season.
Look, I get that he’s the biggest reason for our 18 wins thus far. He’s played great zone defense for Coach Jim Boeheim averaging 3.0 steals per game and pulling down 5 boards per contest. His 8.9 assists per game shows the kind of court vision he has on the other end of the court.
The problem is that his shooting can also be heavily blamed for the Orange’s two losses. Against both Temple and Villanova he took a season high 17 shots. He connected on 20.5% of those attempts. Sadly those were not anomalies. On the season, MCW is shooting a lowly 36.8 percent from the floor, 33% in his past 10 contests.
I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty clear he’s simply not a good shooter at this stage of his career. That would be fine, if he stuck to dishing the rock. Instead the rest of the Orange, shooting a combined 47% on the season, are forced to try to rebound his bricks. And yes, James Southerland’s suspension has placed additional burden on MCW, but he is clearly not the one who should be trying to make up for Southerland’s absence in the scoring column.
He’s young, so maybe he’ll figure it out, but when the shots aren’t falling he needs to get back to doing what he does best- setting up his teammates for easy scoring opportunities.
I confess I was wrong. MCW is not going to score 30 points this season. He may not even crack 20. The sooner he realizes this too, the sooner he can go back to being a potential All-American point guard. Otherwise, a few more 4-for-17 outings will only serve to decrease his draft stock and increase the number in the loss column for the Orange.Matt Goodman