Where would this Syracuse basketball team be without their star senior-grad transfer Andrew White? Our contributor explores his season thus far.
Following last seasons magical Final Four run, Syracuse lost their top three scorers in Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney, and Malachi Richardson. This past summer, when Syracuse landed Andrew White, they saw him as simply another piece to what appeared to be the deepest rotation Jim Boeheim has ever had.
What appeared as a solid recruiting job for the Orange allowed everyone to believe that they would pick up right where they left off, even without their top three scorers from last season. Going into this season, Syracuse was boasting a rotation of ten players, and Boeheim expected them to fit in nicely with sophomore standouts Tyler Lydon and Frank Howard.
When the season began, Tyler Lydon and Frank Howard struggled. This allowed John Gillon to take over as the starting Point Guard, and Andrew White to become the leader of this basketball team.
Even though Lydon has found his game, and has been an extremely important part of Syracuse’s wins since conference play began, Andrew White never lost his stride.
This season, Andrew White has evolved into much more than a 3-point specialist. Aside from his consistency from long range, White leads the team in points with 16.7 per game because he takes advantage of any opportunity to drive to the basket for two, or earn his points from the charity stripe, where he is shooting a solid 81% on the season.
As the season has progressed, White’s importance to this teams success has only grown larger, especially since ACC play began. In his last two contests against Wake Forest and Florida State, White has played every single minute. In these two contests, White scored 24 and 27 points, and shot a healthy 42.9 percent from long range (9-21 in the past two games).
Leading Syracuse with 35.3 minutes per game, it is incredible that White is only averaging 1.7 turnovers per game. Andrew White has been a solid contributor defensively, and you can’t help but understand why Boeheim has so much trust in him.
White averages only two fouls per game, and has been able to play strong defense at both the front and back of Boeheims legendary 2-3 zone. Averaging 1.5 steals per game, Andrew White has shown that he is far from just a scorer.
White’s flexibility on the defensive end has allowed Boeheim to experiment with over five different starting lineups in search of the right combination. When Jim Boeheim stuck with the same starting five for every game in a season, his roster has reached the Sweet Sixteen (1998), Final Four (2016), and won a National Championship (2003).
Only twice in the past two decades have we seen Boeheim switch his starting five so often. Andrew White’s flexibility is the sole reason as to why Jim Boeheim is now willing to play with a seven man rotation.
Andrew White is equally as adaptable on the defensive end as he is on the offensive end. Since transitioning to the forward position, White has averaged 5.5 rebounds a game, an area that Syracuse has struggled with all season. Andrew White has benefited Syracuse in almost every way possible, and there is no doubt in my mind that this team would be below .500 without him.
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