Missing In Action: Syracuse’s Offense Down Low Nowhere To Be Found

Their defense is strong, but the frontcourt’s lack of offensive production could be trouble for the Orange later.

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via Syracuse.com

Yes, the Orange is 8-0 on the season but that doesn’t mean the team has been flawless. So far, the down-low scoring is nowhere to be found. Syracuse has been led on offense by Trevor Cooney, Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair. In the meantime, Syracuse has almost no offensive production out of its frontcourt. Tuesday night, DaJuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita combined for eight points in 52 minutes. The Orange will need much better production out of these three to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Each year, a new center has come to Syracuse with the expectation that he would be the next great big man from Syracuse. A few years ago it was Fab Melo. Then it was Christmas, and last year Coleman was supposed to step in from nearby Jamesville-Dewitt High School. But each one has had problems on the offensive end. But this year it seems to be more of a problem than in the past. Christmas has problems hanging onto the ball down low and bringing down offensive rebounds. Coleman, despite being 6’9″ and 280 pounds, doesn’t go up strong to the basket, instead shying away from contact. And Keita simply doesn’t have an offensive game.

Eight points in 52 minutes from Coleman, Christmas and Keita is nothing new. Against Baylor, the trio scored just nine points in 50 minutes. Against Cal, they combined for eight points in 29 minutes. Coleman and Christmas have both shown promise for the Orange as offensive weapons, but neither has been consistent, and more importantly, neither has had big offensive games against major conference opponents. The Orange takes on Binghamton this weekend before playing St. John’s and Villanova later in non-conference play.

Indiana, St. John’s and Villanova might not be the biggest teams inside, but they all pose bigger threats than teams the Orange played earlier in the year like Fordham and Colgate. In the upcoming games against St. John’s and Villanova, it is important for the big men to perform better and at least provide a viable option for the Orange in the post.

For all the great outside play by Ennis and Cooney, the area around the basket should get more open for the Syracuse bigs to make plays and score some points for the Orange. Eventually, teams will start to double Cooney, Ennis or Fair and the double teamer will come from the big men: Coleman, Christmas or Baye. In these situations, the trio of big men needs to be able to make teams pay by going up strong and putting the ball in the basket.

Against Indiana, all the weaknesses of the Syracuse centers were exposed. Coleman tried to adjust to contact and contort his body as if he were a guard. Christmas had trouble hanging on the ball and brought the ball down after getting an offensive rebound instead of going straight up. And Baye just couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end. Yes, each player brings something on defense, but it is just a matter of time before the offensive shortcomings down low catch up to the Orange.

Posted by: Seth Goldberg 

10 Comments on this Post

  1. How can you be 6-9, 280 lbs and shy away from contact? I just don’t get it!

  2. Coleman is the biggest disappointment in many years here. As for losing the ball its Coleman who has the most balls knocked out of his grasp. A person of his size and remarkably weak hands to keep the ball under control. Who ever coaches this kid on the court is doing a terrible job unless its Coleman ‘ learning issues at fault here. Mobility doesn’t seem to be his problem from what I’ve observed He hesitates when he gets the ball down low and “seems to delay while attempting to decide his next move. The sport is too fast for this kind of non action and the results are clear. Christmas has relied on quick dunks in his career and has virtually no game three feet away from the basket. Keita is Keita and what we get from him offensively is quite frankly a bonus and unlike Wall Street thats not much.

  3. We didn’t have much production from our bigs last year and we made it to the final four, almost the finals. I don’t see it being a big problem.

  4. Unless Coleman can dunk the ball he has no touch around the rim. He has stone hands – it’s so frustrating to watch. Goes up for an easy bank in off the backboard and fires the ball like he’s trying to break the glass. Watching our bigs try to corral rebounds is painful too.

    The answer will have to be Grant offensively – he has post moves, can score and just as importantly demands defensive help which leads to kick outs to our shooters and opens space. We just need an inside presence to keep the defense honest, otherwise it’s going to make things a lot tougher on Cooney, Fair and Ennis all of whom have played outstanding so far.

  5. the truth

    Bring back Bernie!

    Steady decline in the big men improvment since Bernie got run out……

  6. ……does anyone remember 2002-03, when su had no offense out of the center position but had good defense? we won something that year……..

  7. Coleman doesn’t shy away from contact, he actually goes up to strong and expects to get fouled and shoot breaks the backboard with his put backs!!! He needs to try to dunk every time!!! He is our best option, he has the best down low moves!! At the end of the day as long has we have defensive production and rebounds from all three we will be just fine!!!

  8. Coleman just doesn’t play enough. I will bet you his team point differential is the best of the 3 centers. Yet with game in hand against Indiana he has to wait for BMK to foul out to get back in game. Many times when he creates space he does not see entry pass. He catches ball well. He clearly gets the best rebounding position of the 3 bigs. We all know JB loves seniors. But this team will not get to FF relying on BMK in post. DC needs minutes. Would love to see RAK ( who is clearly playing with more energy) get the majority of post minutes and work Roberson more at forward. BMK actually looks worse this year. Energy there but still can’t catch ball and not rebounding. He is a role player at best who does not warrant the minutes he is getting at the expense of other bigs and Roberson.

  9. Coleman doesn’t have stone hands that’s clearly Ketia. He also the only one of three /w any type of post game. He had a double double last night just give him time. Think he gets better as the season goes on

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