Best wishes for a speedy recovery to DaJuan Coleman. But while he recovers, Syracuse is still a legitimate contender for the championship.
Though we aren’t kicking a man while he’s down, it is true that Coleman hasn’t been what Syracuse has expected coming out of Jamesville-DeWitt. Now that Coleman is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury that will require surgery, the big question is not only how will Syracuse play without one less big man, but what does this mean for the future of Jerami Grant?
Grant was expected to be a sixth man who could leave the 315 in search for the big money and fame in the NBA at the end of the season. Some people say he’s gone, others say he will stay. Now that Coleman is done, Grant is the likely starter for the remainder of the season. This is his chance to shine and show NBA scouts that he’s the real deal. If he continues to play the way he has, the NBA could be calling his name in June.
Grant has averaged 12.5 points per game and still manages to grab 6.5 boards. He’s not a super tall big man, but he’s physical and strong enough to play the position and finish the game with a double-double. In his last four games, he’s averaged 13 points and 8.5 boards. Even though he came off the bench with Coleman in the lineup, those numbers are still better than Coleman’s.
Coleman had work to do. He had to learn to be tougher and more physical, but not commit those fouls that often led to extra minutes for Grant and Baye Keita. However, Grant’s biggest downside is his foul trouble. He’s had four fouls four times this season, but he’s been in double-digit points in all but three.
Coleman should have been pulled for Grant in the lineup a long time ago. Grant is a better all-around player, but doesn’t have the height that Coleman does. The bottom line is that Syracuse is a tougher, better offensive team with Grant in the lineup. As long as Grant continues to help Syracuse score more points and win more games, allowing opponents to score an average of 58 points per game isn’t an issue.
Syracuse has already beat three ranked teams this season. This team is for real. The ACC isn’t a particularly big conference like the Big East is, so lack of a big man isn’t a really big issue. Rakeem Christmas will need to continue his somewhat decent defensive play from the last few weeks. Baye Keita never seems to put up star numbers, but he gives Boeheim solid minutes on the floor. Boeheim needs that, especially with the loss of a natural big man. When Keita is given his minutes, he typically puts them to good use.
Yeah, Syracuse will be okay.
Posted by: Austin Pollack