About this time last season Syracuse was starting to gain the momentum that would help the Orangemen win the national title, but what a difference a year makes. At week's end Syracuse (17-6, 7-5 in the Big East) had lost five of its last nine games, and now it appears that junior point guard Billy Edelin, who left the team in early February, will most likely miss the rest of the season. "It's possible Billy could come back, but the percentage is very small," says coach Jim Boeheim, who insists that Edelin left for personal reasons and not because of any legal, academic or NCAA issue. "He just has too much going on, and he's getting further behind academically."
The absence of Edelin, who was averaging 13.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, has forced sophomore Gerry McNamara, the team's only consistent three-point threat, to take over at the point, which diminishes his effectiveness. He hit a buzzer-beater in last Saturday's 57-54 win over Georgetown, but Syracuse committed 25 turnovers. Says Boeheim, "I think this team still has a chance to be good without Billy, but we know we have our work cut out for us."
UNDER THE RADAR
Paul Millsap, Fr., F, Louisiana Tech
At 6'7", 225 pounds and with just 24 games of collegiate experience, Millsap is an unlikely candidate to lead the nation in rebounding, but there he was atop the category at week's end, pulling down 12.4 boards a game. A former Louisiana Mr. Basketball from Grambling High, Millsap is a force on the glass because of his hustle and his nose for the ball. If he can keep up his current pace, he could become just the second freshman ever to win an NCAA rebounding title. (Kenny Miller of Loyola [III.] was the first, in 1987-88.) Millsap also knows what to do when he gets the ball. In addition to averaging a team-high 15.4 points a game for the 13-11 Bulldogs, he ranked second in the WAC in field goal percentage, at 60.7%.