Juliano: ‘No doubt’ Villanova transfer Cole Swider will fit in at Syracuse

Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Cole Swider (10) shoots against North Texas Mean Green forward Thomas Bell (13) in the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The basketball offseason recruiting news continues to come at a rapid pace, with Syracuse getting a commitment from Cole Swider over the weekend and retaining center Bourama Sidibe, who will be returning to the Orange for a fifth season.

To get a scouting report on Swider, we chatted with Joe Juliano from The Philadelphia Inquirer, who covered Swider over the last three seasons, on this week’s The Juice on the Cuse podcast presented by SNY.tv.

“He worked hard and did everything Jay Wright asked him to do,” Juliano said. The struggles he had on defense early in his career were pretty obvious and probably cost him some playing time. But I think all in all, Villanova fans have respect for Swider and what he did for the team.”

While Swider did struggle on defense, he did show signs of improvement over his three seasons.

Juliano pointed to Villanova’s 84-74 win over Georgetown in February. After Qudus Wahab (another player who entered the portal) dominated the Wildcats for 15 points in 15 minutes, Wahab was quiet for most of the second half, limited to two points in the final 15 minutes.

The reason?

“I never thought I’d say this in my career, but I’m happy to say it, Cole Swider,” Wright said after the game. “He’s worked so hard at defending.”

Yet those defensive performances were not consistent enough to earn Swider more than 20 minutes per game in any of his three seasons with the Wildcats. In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Swider’s role diminished even more, as he played just 10 minutes and went scoreless in a 62-51 loss to eventual NCAA Champion, Baylor.

He’ll get a new opportunity at Syracuse, and the minutes should be there. The Orange already lost Robert Braswell to the transfer portal, and Quincy Guerrier declared for the NBA Draft (though he has yet to hire an agent and may return). Alan Griffin, Woody Newton and Marek Dolezaj are also deciding their next steps, which reportedly do not involve Syracuse.

» Related: Syracuse picks up commitment from point guard Symir Torrence

Juliano is confident that Swider will fit in well.

“In Jim Boeheim’s defense, you have to be exact,” he said. “Cole, with his intelligence and basketball IQ, is going to get this defense. I don’t have any doubt about that.”

As for Sidibe, he appeared in just two games last season as a result of a torn meniscus, which is the latest in an injury riddled career. But Sidibe, who will be turning 24 in November, is reportedly returning to the Orange in hopes of one final healthy season.

TJO editor in chief Brad Bierman calls in to break that news down as Syracuse continues to rebuild after its Sweet 16 exit.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.