How Frank Howard can help Syracuse even more

first_imgLOUISVILLE, Ky. — Whether it was Quentin Snider, Trey Lewis or Damion Lee, Louisville’s guards were going to make Frank Howard work for every inch of space on Wednesday night.Howard is a freshman point guard with limited experience, and the Cardinals’ full-court pressure and extended matchup zone could have swallowed him whole. But he remained calm, used his 6-foot-4 frame and long arms to protect the ball, and turned in his most convincing performance of the season in the Orange’s 72-58 loss to No. 18 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center.In a season-high 23 minutes, Howard matched a season-high six assists and committed just one turnover when he was stripped driving into the lane. He grabbed two of SU’s seven steals and by assuming all of Syracuse’s ball-handling abilities, he allowed Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson to exclusively work off the ball and in space on the wings.And when the Orange (18-9, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) hosts Pittsburgh (18-7, 7-6) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Howard’s calm approach to running the offense could help against a Panthers man-to-man defense that matches Louisville’s pressure and intensity.“When he’s able to get in the lane and make plays, we normally have a smaller lineup in and we’re able to space the floor well,” Cooney said after the loss to Louisville. “That’s what he’s good at. He’s good at making plays and he did a good job tonight.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhat he’s not as good at, defending atop the 2-3 zone and creating his own scoring opportunities, is what Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim quickly pointed to after the game. Boeheim acknowledged Howard’s playmaking ability — which he’d already done by playing him extended minutes against one of the country’s best defenses — but wasn’t as encouraged by Howard’s development in other areas. Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Dougherty: Louisville game could be an ominous sign for Syracuse frontcourtMalachi Richardson’s game is growing even more diverse with passing dimensionSyracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about Pittsburgh Luke Rafferty | Senior Staff Photographercenter_img On the season, he’s shooting 23.9 percent from the field (11-for-46) and 6.7 percent from 3 (1-for-15). In conference play, he’s shooting 18.2 percent from the field (4-for-22) and 12.5 percent (1-for-8) behind the arc. He mostly played in a four-guard lineup with the 6-foot-8 Tyler Lydon at center on Wednesday, and the lineup struggled to defend the perimeter despite a combination of length and speed at the top and on the wings of the zone.“Typically I’m looking for the pass,” Howard said of how he could create more scoring opportunities. “Definitely I could start shooting more. I see shots sometimes and I pass it instead of shooting it, and it’s something they’ve been talking to me about, putting that in my game and looking to score a lot more.”But in the short term, Howard’s court vision and knack for fitting passes into tight spaces gives SU’s offense an important complexion. His calm demeanor gives it needed organization. His ability to get to the rim, whether he’s scoring the ball or not, sucks in defenders and frees up big men inside.Pittsburgh’s defense, like Louisville’s doesn’t yield a lot of clean looks and held the Orange to just 20 made field goals on Dec. 30. Howard created a lot of those for his teammates against the Cardinals — like when he took two dribbles toward the lane before flipping a pass to Cooney for an open 3, bounced a one-handed pass to Gbinije for a layup or pulled Dajuan Coleman’s defender out of the paint before throwing a wraparound pass for an uncontested Coleman dunk.Even if Howard has a long way to go in other areas, his passing has made him the last addition to Boeheim’s tight seven-man rotation. It seems that every one of his passes has at least a hint of style to it. He throws them one-handed. He looks away at the last second. He dribbles one way, craning his neck to see the whole court, then turns on a dime to cast the ball in another direction.And while it may seem the flash and flare set him apart, simply creating shots for his teammates is how he’s come to effect games.“I think Frank should get some good minutes against Pitt, he can help us a lot against them,” Gbinije said. “He just has to continue what he’s been doing and try do a little bit more.” Comments Published on February 19, 2016 at 12:45 am Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesselast_img

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