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Chinonso Obokoh: Big Man in a Big New Role

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Chinonso Obokoh spent last year as redshirt, watching from the bench all year long. He watched as Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita held down the paint, mainly on defense. Now, with Christmas entering his senior year, and Baye graduated, Obokoh will be counted on to be a post presence off the bench, especially when you consider the injury-filled past of DaJuan Coleman.

Meaning, Chino will need to step up big-time.

Obokoh’s eligibility was in question a couple months back; the consequences might mean he didn’t really redshirt but actually just sit out for a full season due to being put in the wrong grade in high school. But the point is that he didn’t get into a game, but still was allowed to practice and learn from the SU coaching staff—namely Mike Hopkins, who works a lot with the bigs. This past year was likely spent honing Obokoh’s skills and learning the game a little more after only playing organized basketball during his three high school seasons.

Boeheim has said Obokoh is more of a rebounder and defender than offensive player, which is typical for young big men. But it sounds like a description of a recently departed Orange, Baye Keita. He was raw, played good defense and grabbed rebounds, but did not have much of an offensive game. While it is fair to assume Obokoh will fill Keita’s big-man-off-the-bench role, he may also be asked to score a little more—especially this season—than Keita did in his years at SU. Although he might play great as an anchor for the zone, it may be tough to play someone giving nothing on the offensive end next year with the questions SU faces going into the year. 

Whether he scores or not, Obokoh will play a lot. Fans see every game how short a leash Boeheim has for his bigs. If they commit a bad foul, miss a rotation on defense, the player is almost certainly out of the game at the next whistle. Because of that, Obokoh will be counted on in much the same way Keita was. Obokoh is going to be a key player for the Orange this year, and will likely play a major part in the team’s success as the first big man off the bench. It is a lot to put on the plate of a 20-year-old who has only been playing basketball for three or four years, but it will be a necessary part of next season’s rotation.

Posted by: Seth Goldberg

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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