Adrian Autry is just three games in to his tenure as Syracuse head coach, yet there are a lot of questions around his team already. The biggest one is the position where the biggest guy plays. We’ve been saying here at Orange Fizz for months that Maliq Brown starting at center gives SU the best chance to win basketball games. So far though, it’s been the Florida State transfer Naheem McCloud at the five. While the tallest player in program history has had some spurts of success, the bad seems to be far outweighing the good so far.
When a player is 7’4 you’d expect they can consistently bring in rebounds. However, for Naheem McCloud that just hasn’t been the case. Outside of the Canisius game where he had 9 boards, McCloud has had three rebounds in each of his other games. And the issue isn’t just the McCloud isn’t bring down the boards himself. He struggles to box out and allow for a ton of offensive rebounds.
In the game last night against Colgate, the Raiders outrebounded the Orange 44-32 and had double-digit offensive rebounds. On their first four offensive possessions, the Raiders had two offensive boards. That is just simply unacceptable against a team that comes from the Patriot League.
McCloud’s issues haven’t just been rebounding though. The big man has struggled on the offense end as well. The 7’4 man is averaging just around four points a game in over 15 minutes per game. McCloud creates almost a black hole in the half-court offense and doesn’t have the speed to get involved in transition offense where the Orange are most successful.
It is still just the start of the season so there is time to turn it around. But, through three games, Naheem McCloud hasn’t shown that he can be a consistent contributor to this squad, especially against good teams.