Still Christmas-Time: Unsung Hero Rakeem Christmas Will Continue to Help Syracuse

Rakeem Christmas’s career night and prowess in the center will allow Syracuse some flexibility down the stretch.

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via Zimbio

The Syracuse Orange are now 25-0 after its most recent thrilling win against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, though Syracuse has had its share of speed bumps along the way, especially at the center position.

To start the year, Syracuse had three centers on its roster: Baye Moussa Keita, Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman.  Coleman had season-ending knee surgery and Keita is nursing a sore right knee.  To put it another way, Jim Boeheim had 15 fouls to work with to start the year, and for the past two games has only had five in the middle of the zone.

This was a problem in the Orange’s contest against Pittsburgh, in which Christmas had three fouls shortly into the second half.  Boeheim had to play Jerami Grant at the center position, and his lack of experience showed instantly.

In the game, Christmas played a total of 35 minutes and did not foul out.  He had seven points, five rebounds and three blocks protecting the rim.

His most important effort, however, came this past weekend against the Wolfpack.  Christmas led the Orange with 14 points, 12 rebounds and an incredible seven blocks.  His presence deterred the NC State shooters from driving to the lane time and time again.

The Orange shot only 35.2 percent from the field, and without Christmas’ 4-of-7 effort, Syracuse would have hit less than a third of its shots.  Christmas was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the line, four of which were key to keeping Syracuse in the game down the stretch.

What Christmas proved, however, is that this Syracuse team has numerous role players that can step up in any situation.  Christmas’ 14-point game is well above his 5.9 per game average, and his 12 rebounds are far above his 4.7 per game average.  It was his first double-double of the season.

Although Christmas’ stats have not improved drastically from last year to this one, the timeliness of his plays, his 68 percent field-goal percentage and 73 percent free-throw percentage have contributed to the offensive efficiency of the team greatly.

Keita is due back on Wednesday when the Orange takes on Boston College.  It gives Boeheim more flexibility with his forwards and allows Grant to play more aggressively, in turn.  Although Christmas may not put up the same offensive numbers with his minutes being shared, his aggressiveness can certainly increase.

So, yes, while Tyler Ennis may not have had his most explosive and most clutch night on Saturday, but Christmas proved that his point guard would not need to make headlines every game because the 2013-2014 Syracuse Orange team is deep and filled with unsung heroes.

Posted by: Jason Weingold 

31 Comments on this Post

  1. @Terry;

    I told everyone earlier when things were happening with the new IPF that I would let you all know what was happening,when it was happening.

    Well Terry, the new steel beams/girders are starting to arrive and is being stacked up over at the Skytop parking lot. I expect to see more getting delivered over the next few days. I was told and expected this to happen back in November,but what the hell it’s better late than never. Also there was more heavy equipment delivered to the same site.

    If Malone was correct in telling us that the city needs to be involved building a better drainage system on site then I expect construction to start as soon as the weather breaks. Things are looking promising fella’s.

    I apologize to everyone for talking Syracuse football during the basketball season,but you know how it goes.

  2. thanks terry great to here!!!!!!
    if Rak can add something offensively that would be great. he is the key to us winning the duke geme can he be an inforcer to stop duke from getting into the lane and to use Syracuses size advantage.i also think its important that trevor cooney be agressive with the ball and get to the three point line
    since he is are best free throw shooter and also ther is no way that duke scores 12 three pointers in this game this going to be a wake up call game to the Acc and the rest of the country the the Cuse is not only going to go undefeated this seasoe in its first year in the Acc but that they are truely the best team in the country no not arizona no not florida no not kansas but Syracuse!!!!!!!!! Please please please stop talking about how this team is going to loose to duke to va where not so sit back relax and wath the wins pile up jb and this cuse team make history!!!!!!!!1

  3. Ron, great update. I expect the ground work and infrastructure to last all of March at least, but major steel work taking April. I think they will work linear and apply the cladding once the steel is far enough ahead. By mid May, it will look like a building, leaving June and July to address the interior stuff and exterior details. Facility will be up and running by mid August. I believe that is exactly what I said in December. The drainage issues I heard about put it back probably 2 weeks if I had to guess. Lets not forget that in high offices, the city and the University are not partners or really friends.

  4. I know,I KNOW,that I’m going to take some flack on this but Terry this one is just for you. We’ve often talked about how imperfect the recruiting of a player was based solely on the star rating system.

    They were taken from an article(RIVALS WEBSITE) about the players invited to the NFL combine this year.
    “There were 82 prospects invited who were originally two-stars or weren’t ranked, but the scouting of high school players is an imperfect science”.

    It’s important to keep in mind that recruiting is only half the battle. There are innumerable examples of coaches who brought in strong classes yet couldn’t build a winner at their schools,player development is often what decides what kind of pro prospect a recruit is going to be.

    Terry,the reason I put these comments here today was to show that people like Malone,Russell and I are not alone in our thoughts whEn a coach like Shafer brings in a 2* or N/R player. I honestly believe that comments like this vindicate what it is that we’re trying to say and that everyone involved in past conversations have legitimate points that have been made.

    Damn,here I go again,we were suppose to be talking basketball here instead of football. I just get carried away at times, sorry everyone I’ll try real hard the next time to keep my enthusiasm/excitment in check the next time and make sure that I respond to the sport/article that the Fizz have brought forth for us to read about and respond too.

    have a great day everyone.

    Go Cuse;

  5. @Malone;

    I know about the unlikely friendship between the city and university. It really heated up during Mayor Lee Alexanders tenure.

    Everyone wants a piece of the pie(money) that Syracuse generates ever year and Syracuse ends up having to fight to keep what’s rightfully theirs. That’s why I just can’t see Syracuse going off campus to play their football/basketball and lacrosse games in a stadium downtown and losing contol over the games it has now. I just don’t see it happening. I just can’t see them sharing the money with the county or the city.

  6. here’s another football related nugget to ponder.

    Coach McDonald is going “heavy” after another 4* recruit for the class of 2015.

    4* 6’6″ 200 lb WR Devante Peete out of St Thomas Aquinus Hish School (Florida).

    Sorry,I haven’t curtailed my enthusiasm yet. The day is just starting,but I promise it will be under control before bedtime tonight.

  7. OK, Ron, I like the stats, but he seems a pretty big reach. That said, and somewhat off topic, but only somewhat (given this is a hoops thread too);
    What do you think of bringing on Casullo as WR coach? That might be th only way we get a guy of this caliber at this point. He is after all a Syracuse guy. I bet he could work Florida and Upstate. Sorry Terry, I just suggested a high school coach, but it’s a thought.

  8. @Malone;

    There are two reasons that I am writing about the football team here on a basketball thread.

    a) THE FIZZ hasn’t given us an article on football in a long time to respond too. There is a lot happening that needs to be discussed. So I thought that I would start talking some football.

    b) as we all know the complaint has always been thrown out that during the football season it seems(to some)basketball got all the attention over the football team during the football season. I’m just trying to make a point that NO MATTER what the season is at any given moment in time it’s ok to talk multiple sports

    Malone you have to enlighten me about Casuillo. Is he a local high school coach that I know nothing about? Is he the son of the coach that Marrone fired because of his tirade/antics against Rob Long? I’m a person who believes that if a man is qualified to do the job then give him his chance to move onto the next step. You have to take the steps necessary to make it to the top,it’s the natural progression of things tghat needs to happen to become sucessful. I say give the man a chance.

    I’ve calmed down now and will only talk basketball, I thought this was a sports website. I apologize to everyone for the confusion.

  9. Ron, I am not upset about talking football. Rocco Casullo is the son of the guy that Marrone fired. Bob Casullo was a coach under Mac and Pasqualoni too. Rocco grew up in Syracuse and played HS ball at CNS. He is a long time local and Orange fan who is now head football coach at St. Thomas Aquinas, where Devante Peete, the WR you mention above is in school.

  10. Rak soared last game because he got some early looks and entry passes which got him in the flow of the game. As long as his teammates continue to look for him inside, we will see more of the Rak we saw against NCS. In past games he worked hard and got position, but wasn’t rewarded with the ball. The frustration unfortunately bled into the rest of his game IMHO. guards need to remember he is the center that can catch the ball.

  11. @Malone;

    Thanks for answering my questions. It would seem to me that if we hired him as a recruiter and WR’s coach at Syracuse it would open doors in Florida and certainly in the northeast for recruiting. Do you actually think if Shafer offered him the job that he would take it? If he did accept the offer how long do you think he would stay? I think if he coached with the intensity that his father had that he would be a natural fit coaching next to Shafer on the sidelines.

    I hope that I didn’t offend anyone by talking some football here. If I did I apologize to all who waas offended.

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