Afterthoughts: Dajuan Coleman’s spot in the rotation is unclear
Jessica Sheldon | Photo Editor
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — For most of the season, senior forward Tyler Roberson has been squeezed out of Syracuse’s most frequent lineups. Orange head coach Jim Boeheim has juggled SU’s logjam in the frontcourt and who plays has changed on a game-to-game basis.
Against Boston College, fifth-year senior center Dajuan Coleman was the one who didn’t fit with the puzzle pieces. After playing double-digit minutes in 11 of the first 13 games this year, he didn’t even step on the court once against the Eagles. Had he played, it would have been just the fifth time in his career that he didn’t start.
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Syracuse (8-6, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) suffered another disastrous loss on Sunday, 96-81, at Boston College (8-6, 1-0). Roberson, Tyler Lydon and Taurean Thompson received the bulk of the minutes at center and power forward, leaving Coleman on the bench for good. The Orange struggled anyway, but Boeheim tried something new.
After the game, Boeheim said Lydon is best when playing the 4, or power forward and Andrew White is best at the 3, or small forward. It’s a pivot from when Boeheim said on Nov. 26 that SU’s best lineup is with Lydon at center. Considering that Lydon and White are Syracuse’s top two in both minutes and points, the rest of the frontcourt variations essentially follow from there.
Against BC, White played 38 minutes and Lydon played 39. That left limited space for others and resulted in leaving out Coleman, who Boeheim said, “hasn’t been good. His knees have been sore.”
“I thought Roberson, Tyler, gave us some good play and Taurean as well,” Boeheim said. “But if Tyler Lydon doesn’t play the 3 then Dajuan isn’t going to play. Or one of those guys is not gonna play.”
Roberson, meanwhile, had one of his best games of the season, collecting 10 rebounds and scoring 11 points in 22 minutes. The only other double-double he’s had this season came against South Carolina State.
When Thompson subbed out against BC, Lydon bumped to center and Roberson played power forward. Briefly in the first half, Boeheim tested a Thompson-Roberson-Lydon frontcourt, but said afterward his team isn’t functional with Lydon at the 3. That leaves just one spot Thompson, Roberson and Coleman.
“I think I did some good things,” Roberson said. “I played hard and I think that led to offensive rebounds. I also finished well down there and that’s something I got to do better.”
Roberson was the Orange’s only bright spot in the 15-point loss to BC. He’s SU’s best rebounder, but must improve offensively. Thompson, on the other hand, is Syracuse’s best interior scorer, but must improve defensively. Each of them bring at least one key strength when they’re on the floor.
Coleman’s diminished playing time, Boeheim said, has as much to do with the parts around him as it does with his individual performance.
Figuring out how to work two freshmen and two grad transfers, four of SU’s eight current contributors, into the rotation with the returners was always going to be one of Boeheim’s biggest challenges.
But perhaps the most frightening part for Syracuse is Boeheim’s answer 14 games into the year when asked if he’s ever had to search this hard for lineups that work.
“I don’t think it matters who we play,” Boeheim said.
Published on January 2, 2017 at 12:11 pm