When it comes to SU basketball’s sophomore class, Jim Boeheim has patiently waited. The head man admitted from the start of the season his second year group will receive opportunities to prove themselves. If there’s one Orange who’s worked hard to avoid the “sophomore slump” label, it’s Tyler Roberson.
The 6’8” forward played by far his best, most complete game in a Syracuse uniform Saturday in the loss to Duke. Roberson scored 19 points on eight of 14 shooting and pulled down ten boards in 38 minutes of action. He picked up the slack for Rakeem Christmas, who just could not get it going while battling Duke’s star Jahlil Okafor.
Roberson realizes he took some monumental steps forward with his performance against a top five team in America:
“Personally, I played well and I have to take some of the things I did today and use it in games moving forward. I feel like we had two or three defensive lapses that cost us the game but I have to take those stops moving forward.”
This one game certainly does not tell the whole story on Roberson’s second year at SU. Prior to Duke, Roberson had only scored a combined total of 14 points in Syracuse’s previous three contests (Virginia Tech, @Pittsburgh, @BC). Inconsistency has made it hard for Boeheim to completely buy in on him.
Roberson, though, has transformed over the course of the year from Boeheim’s chew toy that sits next to him on the bench after being yanked a minute and a half into a game to a reliable post player both offensively and defensively. In the Orange’s last ten games, Roberson logged at least 32 minutes in all but one of those. Obviously Syracuse is lacking big man bodies with Chris McCullough and DaJuan Coleman sidelined, so Roberson’s time on the floor spikes. He’s got to take advantage of the extra minutes to close this season to cement a larger role for next year with the highly-touted 2015 recruiting class filing in.
Trevor Cooney sees the body of work coming together for Roberson as well:
“He was great. He found his spots and they were double teaming Rakeem (Christmas) a lot so he was able to get open and make his shots. He was active on both offense and defense. That’s what he can do.”
There’s a difference between what he can and what he should do. Roberson knows very well Boeheim won’t hesitate to play the incoming, 6’8” forwards in Moustapha Diagne and Tyler Lydon if they’re ready to go. That goes without mentioning the possibility of having 6’10” inside force Thomas Bryant on the roster.
SU’s season might have a defined ending due to the self-imposed postseason ban, but Roberson has no ending. He could use all the momentum to his availability to cruise into a more pivotal role for 2015-2016.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen