Syracuse Basketball: Other centers not ready to play, Jim Boeheim says

Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim says that the Orange’s best chance at winning games is with senior Marek Dolezaj suiting up at center.

Boeheim, speaking with media members in a Zoom call after the ‘Cuse setback to Duke on Monday evening in Durham, N.C., said that the team’s other reserve centers simply aren’t ready to compete in contests.

Senior Bourama Sidibe, the Orange’s starting center, suffered an injury in the 2020-21 season opener last November. He’s played in just one other game since, and his absence has proven noticeable.

Syracuse basketball opponents, particularly ones with bruising big men, are feasting on the ‘Cuse in the paint. To be fair, versus the Blue Devils, the Orange held its own in the rebounding department, which is a vital statistic for Syracuse basketball in determining whether the ‘Cuse wins or loses.

But Duke freshman Mark Williams, a 7-foot-0 center, put up some kind of numbers in the Blue Devils’ 85-71 victory over the Orange. Per ESPN.com, Williams tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds, while connecting on 9-of-11 from the field.

Additionally, Williams made things really challenging for ‘Cuse players when Syracuse basketball was on offense, Boeheim said, mentioning the struggles of sophomore forward Quincy Guerrier in the interior.

Syracuse basketball boss Jim Boeheim says the reserve centers can’t help the team right now.

On more than one occasion recently, Boeheim has said that, unequivocally, power forward/center Dolezaj is the Orange’s most important or valuable player.

Boeheim said that, despite Dolezaj’s somewhat slender frame, he provides the ‘Cuse with the best chance to succeed. When Syracuse basketball falls to an opponent, it’s not Dolezaj’s fault on either end of the floor, Boeheim said.

The Syracuse basketball head coach said that if the squad’s other centers were ready to play, he would play them. But that’s not the case at this juncture.

Besides Dolezaj and Sidibe, the Orange’s other centers are sophomore Jesse Edwards, redshirt freshman John Bol Ajak and freshman Frank Anselem. Each has played here and there in the 2020-21 term, but none of them have received consistent minutes.

Boeheim said that all three of these young centers are working hard and improving, however, Dolezaj is the player whom the head coach feels most comfortable with in the Syracuse basketball line-up.

In the current stanza, according to ESPN.com, Dolezaj is averaging 36.1 minutes, 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per affair. He is shooting 55.5 percent from the field and 85.9 percent from the charity stripe.