Howard Washington went from out of the rotation to Syracuse’s only backup guard after Geno Thorpe’s departure

first_imgEver since he was a kid, Howard Washington dreamt of playing at Syracuse. Despite donning the SU jersey this year, the freshman point guard hadn’t played much to start the season.Washington didn’t enter three of Syracuse’s first six games. Junior Frank Howard (35 minutes per game) and sophomore Tyus Battle (34.8) are locked in as the starting guards. At the beginning of the season, whenever one of them saw some time off, it’d be graduate transfer Geno Thorpe coming on.On Dec. 1, it was announced that Thorpe was leaving Syracuse. With Thorpe gone, that leaves Washington, Howard and Battle as the only three scholarship guards for SU (8-1), meaning Washington will naturally be stepping into a larger role.“Not that we’re glad that Geno’s gone, that’s one of his teammates. But obviously that opens the doors to showcase what he can do,” said Howard Washington Sr., Washington’s father. “… He’s just excited for an opportunity.”Washington has seen time on the court in every game since Thorpe left. In the first half against Kansas — the first game after Thorpe left — Howard picked up three first-half fouls. Washington played eight minutes against the then-No. 2 team in the country after sitting out the previous two games.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWashington decommitted from Butler before going to prep school and turned down other offers just to get his shot at Syracuse. Washington Sr. said the coaching staff made no promises as to how many minutes Washington would play when he got to Syracuse.As many freshmen do, Washington had to get used to not playing much after coming off years of being one of the leading players on his own team. It’s difficult to not know when he’s going to be coming into the game, Washington said. And playing spot minutes sometimes prevents him from getting into a natural rhythm.Still, even when he wasn’t playing, Washington found ways to contribute. While on the bench, he normally sits between head coach Jim Boeheim and the assistant coaches. He’ll talk with assistant Gerry McNamara and point out things that he sees going on in the game. Washington said it helps him stay engaged in the game, and that McNamara has been impressed by Washington’s eye.“If you’re interacting with the game on the bench,” Washington said, “then it’ll just translate right onto the court when you’re in.”During the Colgate game, Washington said he told Oshae Brissett to do a quick spin move after catching the ball on the low block since the defender wasn’t in a position to stop it. When Brissett was asked postgame how Washington helps him out, he pointed to that exact moment. Coming out of the timeout in which the two discussed it, Brissett caught the ball, did a quick spin and got fouled.Washington is also one of the more active players on the bench. When Matthew Moyer got subbed out less than two minutes into the same game, Washington was the first player there to greet him. Washington sometimes sprints out ahead of Boeheim during timeouts to high-five his teammates.“I look to him as a leader. He was my point guard last year. I always listen to what he has to say,” said Brissett, who played alongside Washington last year at Athlete Institute Prep. “He’s got high basketball IQ and he helps me out a lot.”After the Kansas game, Boeheim said Washington played “fine.” Against Colgate, he said that he wished he could have given him more minutes. Brissett said Boeheim praised Washington in the locker room postgame.Washington stressed that he tried to prepare the same way the whole season and to keep the same approach whether he was playing or not. Against Colgate, Washington drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing, his first-ever college basket. He ran back on defense with the same expression on his face as he normally has.Washington Sr. and Washington talk a few times a week, Washington Sr. said, and always after games. The postgame talks usually consist of making sure Washington is always ready.“You never know when something’s going to happen,” Washington Sr. said. “And when they call your number, you don’t have time to try to catch up and get up to speed at that point of time.‘‘You’ve got to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm Contact Tomer: [email protected] | @tomer_langerlast_img

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