Syracuse men’s basketball could have a versatile duo at point guard

first_img Published on November 14, 2016 at 2:19 am Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds While Boeheim said he doesn’t think he’ll use Howard and Gillon together all that much, both players cited the benefits of it. Howard said it would be useful against teams that press a lot like North Carolina and Louisville since having two players on the court that usually handle the ball could negate the opposing defense.“Playing with (Howard) makes the game easier on me because normally I have to do more things when it comes to making a play,” Gillon said on Friday. “But when I have somebody on the other end who can shoot, which he showed tonight, and that can handle the ball, it really gives me an outlet because you can drive and it spaces the floor as well at the same time.”Whether Howard and Gillon get more minutes together remains to be seen, but on Friday night, Boeheim said, “I thought they really played exceptionally well.”What was once perceived as a weakness entering the season has almost immediately transformed into a strength. Comments After eight and a half minutes against Colgate, Howard impressed with six assists and three points. But then came in Gillon, who put up four assists and two points in the next 6:36.“We bring different things to the table,” Howard said. “I get things started then he comes in, switches the pace up. … I think we feed well off each other”During part of last season, Howard had mononucleosis. His weight dropped to around 170 pounds. He struggled taking on defenders in the lane and he resorted to passing. But after an offseason in which he improved his jump shot and bulked up to 205 pounds, Howard is better suited to fully embrace the point guard role.Gillon’s instinct on the court is to find a way to the rim. While growing up, his father had him play football to try and make him tougher. Over the years, he’s improved his jump shot and grown more well-rounded as a point guard, averaging 3.8 assists per game last year at Colorado State and shooting 33.3 percent on 3-pointers.“He’s more like me at the same time. I’m just a little taller. He can facilitate, he can score,” Howard said. “… I can come in, keep the pace, get guys involved and he can do the same thing. I think we’re kind of a reflection of each other, just a little different.” For a minute and 38 seconds on Friday night, Syracuse flashed all of its potential at point guard. As head coach Jim Boeheim hinted earlier in the week, Frank Howard and John Gillon took the Carrier Dome floor at the same time.On the Orange’s second possession with the lineup, Gillon found Howard drifting into open space on the right wing and delivered him the ball. Howard sunk his second 3 of the season opener, topping his total from all of last year.On SU’s next possession, Howard penetrated, drawing the defense in and he found Gillon at the top of the key. Gillon knocked down the 3 and held one finger up in the air to celebrate.Howard and Gillon played together for a total of 4 minutes, 9 seconds in No. 19 Syracuse’s (1-0) season-opening win on Friday. Aside from playing together, something Boeheim said likely won’t happen much in the future, the two players’ skill sets provide a weapon at point guard that Syracuse has rarely had in recent memory. Against Colgate, they combined for 24 points and 15 assists.“It’s important for those guys to play well. It helps everybody,” Boeheim said. “… That’s a lot of assists out of one position and they scored as well.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe 6-foot-5 Howard has improved his shooting in the offseason and prides himself on being able to control the game from the point. He said he was affected by Boeheim telling him not to shoot much and often worried that if he shot, he’d be subbed out.Gillon, listed at just 6 feet, has a propensity to use his quickness to get to the rim. His speed also helps Syracuse in the full-court press, which Boeheim used while he was in the game on Friday.MORE COVERAGE: Tyler Lydon works through struggles after two-point performanceOshae Brissett becomes first member in SU’s 2017 classWhat we learned from SU’s win over Colgate Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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