Syracuse basketball has two big weaknesses: the Orange can’t play defense inside and it can’t rebound. Everyone knew the Orange was undersized and would likely have trouble with these areas of the game going into the season, but despite the struggles in the paint the Orange has still insisted on keeping its only true center on the bench. On a team known for playing its starters for almost the entire game, Dajuan Coleman is averaging only 16 minutes. Every other starter (and Tyler Lydon) gets over 30. With bigger and better teams coming up on Syracuse’s schedule, it’s time to get Coleman in the game.
Honestly, 6-foot-9 and 278 pounds should be the only statistics you need to put a guy on the floor when your team is getting outrebounded 50-19 by Wisconsin, but Jim Boeheim hasn’t been convinced for most of the year. Coleman’s numbers aren’t great, he only averages five points and four rebounds. But nobody ever accused him of being an offensive powerhouse, and the defensive and rebounding numbers are really skewed by how little Coleman plays.
Coleman leads the Orange in rebounds per 40 minutes played (10.6), and even scores more points per 40 minutes than Tyler Lydon (12.1 to 11.2), who gets most of the playing time Coleman misses out on. In the North Carolina game Coleman played 27 minutes — easily his most of the season — and his value showed. Not only did he lead the Orange with seven rebounds (six of them offensive), but Coleman helped keep North Carolina off the offensive glass. The Tar Heels picked up only eight offensive rebounds in the Carrier Dome, and the Orange outrebounded a team who averages 11 more rebounds per game than its opponents.
Boston College visits the Carrier Dome today, and the Eagles are led in rebounding by 7-foot-1 250 pound Dennis Clifford. Giving Coleman major minutes worked against one of the best rebounding teams in the country in North Carolina, and Coleman needs to be in the game more if the Orange wants to have any chance of keeping up with the ACC in the low post.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson