Ah, the holidays. It hasn’t been the frigid cold, multiple feet of snow season Syracuse natives are used to, but one constant has remained: Orange basketball. While you’re singing Christmas carols and hanging your “Otto the Orange” ornaments on the tree the Orangemen will be working on their game, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have Christmas lists of their own. Here’s a look at what might be on the Christmas list of Syracuse’s starting lineup this year.
Dajuan Coleman – Playing Time
For a starter and Syracuse’s only true center, Dajaun Coleman isn’t getting starter’s minutes. At first we thought the lack of playing time for Coleman was due to early foul trouble, but as the season has gone on he has continued to see the bench, fouls or no fouls. The good news is that Coleman has been getting more opportunities to prove himself with Mike Hopkins running things, and is coming off a season-high 13-point game against Montana State where he didn’t miss a shot. Maybe Jim Boeheim likes what he’s seeing from Coleman and gives him more minutes after the suspension, and with bigger teams coming in ACC play it’ll be harder to keep Coleman on the bench.
Tyler Roberson – Recognition
Tyler Roberson doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. When you start listing Syracuse basketball players Roberson probably isn’t one of the first three you think of, but he’s one of the most important players the Orange has. He’s been the only bright spot on a team of terrible rebounders, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game and seventh in the country in offensive boards. He’s only listed at 226 pounds, but knows how to use it to get position. He’s not a scorer and he knows it, but this year he’s quietly had career bests with nine points per game and is shooting 49 percent from the field. You want to spread the holiday spirit? Show Tyler Roberson some love.
Malachi Richardson – The Three Point Shot
At the beginning of the year it looked like Richardson could be the Orange’s best shooter, but he’s lost his shooting stroke and can’t seem to find it. He’s 1-18 from behind the arc in the Orange’s last three games, including an 0-11 performance which led to Syracuse’s most embarrassing loss of the season to St. John’s in the Garden. Jim Boeheim has been saying all year that if the Orange isn’t hitting its shots it can’t beat anyone, and that’s proven true to this point. Malachi needs to get his shot back, and soon.
Trevor Cooney – Bench Help
It’s no secret that Trevor Cooney plays a lot. He’s been in the top three in the ACC for minutes played in each of the last two seasons, and if his career ended today he’d be sixth in the ACC in all-time minutes per game. All of the running around Cooney does on defense (combined with all the energy it takes to take a fadeaway 30 feet from the basket) tires the fifth year senior out over time. Maybe he’d be able to make a few more corner threes if his legs weren’t being run ragged every game.
Michael Gbinije – Draft Stock
What do you get the man that has everything? Not only does Gbinije lead the Orange in points and the ACC in steals, he’s even beating Trevor Cooney at his own game by shooting 47 percent from behind the arc and leading the conference in threes made. The Orange’s top prospect is being looked at as a second round pick by most analysts, and it’ll be hard for him to climb much higher. He’s a fifth year senior, and NBA teams don’t love using lottery picks on 24-year-olds. If Gbinije really impresses during ACC play he could creep into the late first round, which matters since first round picks get guaranteed contracts. Gbinije will have the chance to prove himself to NBA teams in the coming months against the toughest teams in the country, it’ll be up to him to execute.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson