first_imgFrank Howard unfurled the wrap from his knee, tossed the block of ice in the garbage can to his right and continued fixing his stare on the locker room carpet at Madison Square Garden. The sophomore point guard had just chalked up his worst offensive showing of the season, a paltry 0-for-9 shooting night in which all three of his points came from the foul line.Syracuse lost, 52-50, to a damaged Connecticut team. Howard, who played 27 minutes, 11 more than fellow point guard John Gillon, struggled to orchestrate an offense that might’ve been even worse than its second-year floor general.For a player coming off his second career double-double, including 10 points and a career-high 13 assists just two days prior in a win against North Florida, this reality check brought Howard back down to Earth.“I just think it’s a one-time thing,” Howard said. “I don’t think I’ll ever … I won’t say ever, but hopefully I won’t have this performance for the rest of the year.”The sophomore has assumed a role larger than what he undertook last year. Howard displaced Kaleb Joseph as Michael Gbinije’s backup in the latter part of the season but still didn’t have the freedom SU head coach Jim Boeheim has granted him this year. His vast improvement has surfaced on occasion this season, and for both Howard’s sake and Syracuse’s (5-3), a noon matchup with Boston University (4-5) at the Carrier Dome on Saturday will provide a suitable opportunity for the point guard to get back on track.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I’ll learn from it,” Howard said of his Monday letdown, “just gotta take it on the chin.”Jessica Sheldon | Photo EditorFor a point guard who has been asked to penetrate more, he’s done a sufficient job of doing so since Syracuse’s loss to South Carolina. A vast chunk of his 13 assists last Saturday came from drive-and-kick scenarios where he freed up space for perimeter shooters, namely Andrew White.But against the Huskies, Howard opted to attack the rim to create for himself on most drives rather than find a teammate. He attempted a season-high nine shots (six from two-point range) and logged his first game all season without a made field goal, largely in part to UConn’s starting frontcourt of 6-foot-11 Steve Enoch and 7-foot Amida Brimah.“They were big guys and I didn’t get into ‘em, just kind of tried to get over top of ‘em and that’s never going to work so you know, just gotta watch that,” Howard said. “Going in there, there was a few of those that were definitely my fault, could’ve got to the line more.”Instead, Howard got to the line only twice, and left much to be desired from his head coach.The Huskies varied their defensive setup, from zone, to man, to a full-court press. Though Howard committed only two turnovers, he couldn’t fully expose the UConn pressure for any easy buckets aside from a dump-off to Dajuan Coleman to beat the first-half buzzer.“We kind of switched it up, played a little full-court pressure to retreat back to the zone. And then we just played solid defense down the stretch,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said. “We went back to our bread and butter in man-to-man defense.”Point guard production has rested largely on Howard’s shoulders with Gillon taking only 11 shots and scoring 13 points in the last four games, including none in the last two.It’s a burden Howard crumbled under in SU’s most recent offensive dud, but one he’ll be hoping to shoulder with ease again like he has against Syracuse’s inferior opponents thus far.“We just made some bad decisions from the point guard spot,” Boeheim said. “We gotta play better there.” Comments Published on December 9, 2016 at 9:57 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Frank Howard takes on larger role as Syracuse’s main point guard

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