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Syracuse basketball can’t triumph unless Jesse Edwards avoids foul issues

Syracuse basketball, Jesse Edwards (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Jesse Edwards (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball junior center Jesse Edwards only logged about 20 minutes in the team’s three-point, overtime loss at Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon at the LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.

That’s because the 6-foot-11 big man fouled out relatively early on in the second half versus the Demon Deacons. Now, I do think at least one of the fouls whistled against him was suspect, and the officiating as a whole in this Atlantic Coast Conference clash was pretty sub-par.

But Edwards also put himself into a few dicey situations where instead of trying to make a play on a Wake Forest offensive player, he probably should have just let that player score.

In his post-game press conference, Edwards said of the fouls, “I got too many too quick,” according to a transcript provided by SyracuseOnSI publisher Mike McAllister.

Syracuse basketball needs Jesse Edwards to stay out of foul trouble.

There’s no question as to Edwards’ importance to the Orange roster in the 2021-22 campaign. He’s averaging roughly 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks per contest, per ESPN. He’s connecting on about 70 percent from the field.

Edwards not only blocks shots, but he also alters them. He anchors the zone, most of the time, quite well. And he’s a strong contributor on offense.

Graduate student center Bourama Sidibe hasn’t seen virtually any run at all since coming back from an injury. Sophomore center Frank Anselem has provided some good spot minutes, but he doesn’t have the same imposing presence as Edwards on either end of the court.

Finally, no disrespect to graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim, who had stellar offensive production in the Orange’s 77-74 setback to Wake Forest (13-3, 3-2), but I don’t think Boeheim is a terrific option at center for long stretches, particularly if the opponent has a bruising big man or two in the paint.

To be fair, head coach Jim Boeheim said in his post-game presser after the defeat at the hands of the Demon Deacons that the ‘Cuse (7-8, 1-3) hung in there and did a good job on defense after Edwards was disqualified.

Edwards has now fouled out in four-straight games, three of them losses, according to ESPN statistics. He’s also fouled out in eight of the Orange’s 15 total encounters. That’s a concerning trend.

For Syracuse basketball to right the ship, and the squad does have a three-game home-stand coming up, Jesse Edwards has to be on the floor. He was simply fabulous last week in a one-point setback at red-hot Miami, for example.

"According to another transcript from McAllister, Boeheim said regarding the Wake Forest battle, “It hurts losing Jesse early like that. A couple of fouls he just can’t commit. One of them I don’t think he did foul, but a couple of them you just can’t reach in and be involved in that play. We need him in the game.”"

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