Orange Watch: Sorting out playing time for Syracuse basketball

Syracuse center Bourama Sidibe goes up for a shot against Pittsburgh. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: Following the final tune-up for the Orange Tuesday night, pulling away from Canadian college powerhouse Carleton before the Virginia opener looms in less than a week (Wed., Nov. 6 – 9:00 p.m. ET / ACCN), Jim Boeheim was in a feisty mood on the eve of his 44th season. It’s an annual rite of passage for Orange Nation to figure the over/under of how many players the coach will settle on come the heart of conference play, and the longtime boss was mildly irritated about all of the outside speculation surrounding this year’s roster rotation as he molds a young team to his liking.

As he is habitually wont to do, Jim Boeheim is going to do things his way. That includes his evaluation and subsequent tinkering with the on-court options afforded him this season with a rare SU team in which four guards will contribute significant minutes, along with the more common four forwards/centers, the combination of big men potentially being in flux, along with riding the season’s stretches of who’s hot, and who’s not.

The big caveat is how Bourama Sidibe evolves in a starting role at that critical center spot that when clicking anchors the zone defense and changes the complexion of the offense. Sidibe’s play in turn relates to where on the floor Marek Dolezaj’s starter-like minutes will be spent, which then may result in opening up some playing time for either Robert Braswell or likely Jesse Edwards inside.

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“Look, I’ll tell you this, I’m going to play the guys I think we need to play to win,” Boeheim said succinctly after the 19-point Carleton victory. “if somebody gets in and does a good job, they’re going to play. If they don’t, they’re going to be out.”

“I think it could be eight, nine, or possibly could get to 10,” Boeheim continued. “It’s more likely it’s going to be eight or nine, in actuality.”

So, there it is. Eight or nine players will see important minutes, and with that in mind here is the projected early season look at how those minutes will be divvied up among the scholarship roster:

Starting Lineup:

  • Jalen Carey-PG
  • Buddy Boeheim-SG
  • Elijah Hughes-SF/PG (if needed)
  • Quincy Guerrier-PF
  • Bourama Sidibe-C

Off the Bench:

  • Marek Dolezaj-C/SF/PF
  • Brycen Goodine-PG
  • Joe Girard-SG/PG

Next Up:

  • Robert Braswell-SF/PF
  • Jesse Edwards-C
  • John Bol Ajak-C (fourth center)
  • Howard Washington-G (fifth guard)

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.