Frank Howard at ‘60 or 70 percent’ and back as Syracuse’s starting point guard

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Frank Howard had to force himself to calm down. He knew he’d be playing his first game of his senior year on Wednesday night, returning from a left ankle injury he suffered more than two months ago. So he sat around and played NBA 2K and Grand Theft Auto.“I didn’t want to come out too excited or too jittery,” Howard said. “Still be poised, and I still have to control the game and be poised and calm. I was just trying to calm myself down all day.”The calm didn’t come until the Orange (3-2) won the opening tip and he had the ball in his hands, Howard said. After that, he settled in during Syracuse’s 77-56 win over Colgate (4-2). Howard finished with three points, five assists and three steals in 19 minutes.“When you haven’t played in eight weeks, it’s very hard,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He had five assists and no turnovers. I thought he was really good in what he did.”Howard suffered an injury to his left ankle in mid-September. He had to undergo a surgical procedure on the ankle and said Wednesday he was unsure what that procedure was.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHoward, who averaged the second-most minutes in the country last season, couldn’t play at all in the Orange’s first four games. Players were forced out of position, especially with Tyus Battle spending time at point guard. Howard watched “as a fan,” he said, as the Orange lost two games in Madison Square Garden in 24 hours last week.“To be honest, excuse my language, but it was hell,” Howard said. “It was hell. I was very upset with myself. Did all the work in the summer, and had to start from square one. Biggest thing not being out there to help my team when I know I could’ve helped and could’ve brought something to the table.”Boeheim inserted his senior point guard right into the starting lineup Wednesday. His introduction elicited booming cheers from the Carrier Dome crowd.Howard didn’t waste any time making his mark on the game, either. After Colgate opened with a 3, Oshae Brissett drove through the lane and kicked out to Howard near the left corner. The 6-foot-5 guard had spent plenty of time before Syracuse’s first four games shooting around the arc in the hours leading up to game-time. Wednesday, he caught Brissett’s pass in-game and drained the 3.Howard missed the four shots he took after that. But Boeheim and Howard felt he did what he was supposed to do: get the offense into its sets and get the ball to his teammates. When Battle heated up in the second half, Howard got him the ball.“Frank’s always looking for us to knock down shots, and he’s always talking to us,” Battle said. “It’s really good to have him back out there.”Howard had hoped to play in New York City. But then he got sick on the day SU traveled. “That was God telling me, ‘Nah,’” Howard said. He wanted to play last Friday after the Orange’s loss to UConn on Thursday. But he decided that wouldn’t have been the best for him or Syracuse.On Wednesday, though, Howard was back. He said he felt about 60 or 70 percent of where he had been during the summer. And he was already looking forward to next Wednesday’s meeting with Ohio State. But for about 15 minutes after Syracuse’s win over Colgate, Howard held court on a couch in SU’s locker room. He was the last player still talking to media. He didn’t mind.“I was really excited to just play with my teammates again and just happy to be out there,” Howard said. Commentscenter_img Published on November 21, 2018 at 11:02 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3last_img