Syracuse Basketball: Adrian Autry praised Benny Williams for this big thing

Syracuse basketball, Benny Williams (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Benny Williams (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Junior forward Benny Williams returned to the Orange not too long ago, following a suspension, and while he didn’t produce much in his first game back for Syracuse basketball, the talented young man received some praise from first-year head coach Adrian Autry.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Williams, eyeing a big junior year, was suspended from the ‘Cuse in early November “for a violation of team rules.”

He missed the first two contests of the 2023-24 regular season, both home wins for the Orange, and when Syracuse basketball staged a furious comeback to defeat Colgate, 79-75, this past Tuesday evening, Benny Williams played, although not a lot.

Against the Raiders from the JMA Wireless Dome, Williams came off of the bench, as sophomore wing Justin Taylor earned his third straight start at forward. Benny Williams logged nine minutes, producing one rebound and one assist. He was 0-of-4 from the field.

Give Benny Williams some time, Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian Autry says.

After his squad beat Colgate, Autry discussed Benny Williams in his post-game press conference, and I enjoyed hearing what the Orange’s head coach had to say about his junior forward.

"Per an article from SyracuseOnSI publisher Mike McAllister, Autry said of Williams, “It’s going to take some time to get his conditioning and rhythm back. The greatest thing that I’ve seen was that he was up and cheering for his teammates. He was into it. He was ready to go if I called him. So again, we look forward to working him back in with this team. Getting him back into the rotation. I thought he was great today and he did what he could do from being away for a couple of days.”"

Candidly, Williams’ stat line versus the Raiders meant next to nothing to me. He’s back with the program, and it makes total sense that Benny Williams will need some time to find his rhythm within the Orange’s rotation.

But hearing Autry talk about how Williams was supporting his teammates, regardless of how many minutes he received versus Colgate, is highly encouraging, in my humble opinion.

When word broke from Syracuse basketball that Williams had been suspended, understandably, many fans began to prognosticate on social media. I get it. What I didn’t like was seeing some fans trash Benny Williams, particularly since none of us knew the exact reason why he was suspended in the first place.

What’s more, during the game against Colgate, as Williams was eased back into the line-up but didn’t play much, I still continued to see some ‘Cuse fans throw a bunch of negativity in the direction of Benny Williams. I respect when my fellow fans give their opinions, but I find these sorts of mean-spirited comments unnecessary and, frankly, quite disappointing.

In any event, I’m glad that Williams is back with the Orange. Undeniably, Justin Taylor and other wings/forwards have stepped up and played pretty well when Williams was unavailable, but long term, the ‘Cuse needs Benny Williams to play at a high level if it hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence.

Starting with this coming week’s Allstate Maui Invitational in Honolulu, along with other challenging non-conference contests on the horizon as well as a daunting start to its Atlantic Coast Conference competition, the Orange will have its hands full in a bevy of battles.

Williams, who as a sophomore in 2022-23 averaged about 22 minutes, seven points and four rebounds per contest, while connecting on 39.6 percent from the 3-point line, will be a pivotal piece for Syracuse basketball as the squad’s schedule intensifies.

But, as Autry stressed, let’s exercise a little patience with Benny Williams as it relates to his on-court production, shall we?

Next. Syracuse Basketball: 4-star Elijah Moore on visit during epic SU comeback. dark