Syracuse takes on Boston College at 1:00 p.m. today in what is essentially the easiest game left on the schedule. Following Sunday’s contest, the Orange moves onto Louisville, has two home contests against Pitt and NC State, and two tough road games to close the season. It starts with BC though, which has “trap game” written all over it.
The Emergence of Dajuan Coleman
The media has finally caught onto Coleman’s slow, but sure reemergence as a center in the zone. He is cutting down on fouls, which had been a problem from the start, and has started to flourish in offensive spurts. If SU wants to be successful down the road, Coleman must play well to give the team depth and an inside threat. He scored 11 points and grabbed five boards in the Orange’s first matchup with BC, so expect much of the same. Louisville will obviously be a much tougher test, though, and will serve as a real benchmark for his progress.
The Health of Franklin Howard
News broke earlier in the week that freshman point guard Franklin Howard was playing with a fractured thumb in SU’s last game against Florida State. Howard has been getting more and more minutes as ACC play moves on, and like Coleman, his court time is much needed. He may not contribute much on the box score, but having Howard run the point gives the Orange court vision that Michael Gbinije doesn’t have. That’s not to say that Gbinije playing the point is a bad thing, because clearly it isn’t, but rather that playing point guard isn’t something that can be picked up overnight. With Howard on the floor, Gbinije can play off of the ball which gives him better shot attempts. It does hurt the zone’s defensive length and effectiveness, however.
The Shooting Slump of Trevor Cooney
During the Orange’s four-game winning streak, Trevor Cooney’s offensive play has been less than ideal. Combined, he has taken 50 shots and made just 17 of them. For those counting at home, that’s just 34 percent. From behind the arc, he’s just 8-of-28 (28 percent). SU has been carried by Gbinije and Malachi Richardson across this four-game stretch, but luckily the games have come against bottom teams in the ACC. Cooney needs to figure out his game quickly, because the Orange cannot afford to waste offensive possessions. Simply put, going 3-of-11 from the field on a nightly basis doesn’t win games. If he doesn’t wake up by Wednesday night, the Orange could be staring at a loss in Kentucky.