Michael Carter-Williams: Digging Deeper And Looking Forward
I’ve touched on what makes Michael Carter-Williams unique in this space before, but it bears repeating. SU’s sophomore point guard shown incredible vision (thanks in part to his height relative to the players guarding him), superior athleticism and driving ability as well as a knack for knowing where his teammates are that borders on telepathy. His confidence level, which was already high when SU tipped off against San Diego State, has only risen as he’s put other players in terrific position to make shots. It says a lot about the trust level when a point guard racks up 13 assists and all his teammates can do afterwards is apologize and lament that they didn’t give him a few more dimes and his coach is quick to point out that he could have finished with 17 or 18 instead of 13. Carter-Williams had several moments on the U.S.S. Midway where he was out of control, but he’s handled the ball smoothly ever since, posting an A/TO ratio of nearly 5:1 in SU’s last three games.We knew coming into the season that SU’s lack of point guard depth would reduce the margin of error, but that couldn’t be a smaller concern based on his performance in the still-young season.
In addition to leading the country in assists per game, he has assisted on a brain-scrambling 51.4 percent of his team’s baskets when he’s been in the game. That number probably isn’t sustainable (the Big East’s leader in the category is typically between 35 and 40 percent), but the ranking is an identifier of how well he’s playing relative to the floor generals around the country. On top of that, the rest of SU’s non-conference season doesn’t figure to throw a big wrench into MCW’s momentum.
Five of Syracuse’s last nine non-league opponents currently rank in the top 100 nationally in tempo. Of those five, two are in the top 20, including Friday’s opponent, Arkansas. Carter-Williams has proven that he can slow the game down and execute half-court sets when need be, but he thrives more in transition and off the dribble. With more opportunities to run, the scariest thing is that the numbers might not settle down until the start of Big East play. With more possessions, MCW may have another crack at the single-game assist record referenced by many on Twitter in the first half of the Colgate game. It may very well come down to how much rest Jim Boehiem thinks he needs, and a fresh point guard for Big East play is much more valuable than a single-game record, but the thought of a sophomore posting Pearl Washington-esque numbers in just his first full season with full-time responsibilities is definitely a great sign for SU’s prospects.