In news that is disappointing, but maybe not that shocking, Dajaun Coleman is done for the year. The leg injury that has dogged him over the last few weeks is not healing properly, and surgery is needed. DC hasn’t played since the second half against Virginia Tech on Jan. 7th. He missed time even before that game.
It’s not that Syracuse can’t win without Coleman. The Orange has ripped off three straight since he went out for good (four if you include that Hokies game). The problem is yet another Syracuse big man goes down and leaves the squad short-handed in March. A few years ago Arinze Onuaku’s injury derailed a tourney run. Then Fab Melo’s academic/drug suspension put a dent in Jim Boeheim’s plans. Now it’s Coleman.
The good news is the ACC just isn’t nearly as loaded as we would’ve all predicted. Duke’s a top 25 team, but not an elite squad. Pitt is probably in that category as well. UNC is a disaster. In fact, the Orange only has two ranked opponents left (Blue Devils, Panthers) over three games. The Coleman injury might not bite the Orange until the NCAA tourney.
But rebounding and interior work has been the vulnerability of Syracuse this season. Coleman was averaging around 4 boards per gamre and was only getting 10-15 minutes per night, but it’s still another big body for Boeheim’s rotation. He had double-doubles against both Fordham and Binghamton, and while no one expected that in ACC play, it proved what type of player he could be on occasion.
Jerami Grant’s board work has already been a pleasant surprise, so that’ll have to continue. Rak Christmas is going to have to pull a little heavier of a load. C.J. Fair has to continue his all-around phenomenal play. Amazingly, the Orange ranks as only the 203rd team in the nation in rebounding anyway – and yet is still undefeated into January. So it’s not like this is a crucial part of the success. But it’s tough to see another lost year for Coleman, and an interior presence gone yet again for March. Luckily, this Syracuse team is one of the deepest Boeheim has ever had.