Nearly two weeks ago, Jim Boeheim said he “needed to see something” from DaJuan Coleman on offense. In the three games since then, the Syracuse Orange big man has delivered on that end of the floor.
He had 12 points in 30 minutes vs. Wisconsin, 15 in 29 minutes against North Florida and then on Monday night, he chipped in another 10 in 28. The uptick in points has coincided with increased minutes, but these outputs haven’t been about volume. Coleman’s been an efficient force inside (and increasingly with his newfound jump shot), and those abilities seem to be improving by the week.
Against UConn, the fifth-year senior logged Syracuse’s only complete effort. The 10 points don’t sound like much... until you realize that was the second-highest total for any Orange player. And the team only scored 50 total. A miserable number that would’ve been even worse without Coleman. That’s before you even get into his rebounding.
In one of his best games on the glass to-date, Coleman collected 16 rebounds -- including six on the offensive end -- and single-handedly kept possessions alive amidst SU’s awful shooting. His ability to draw fouls while keeping himself out of trouble continues to improve. His movement around the rim got to the point (compared with the rest of the team’s shooting struggles) that you almost thought the team should be running the offense through him.
Three of his shots (two jumpers and the buzzer-beating tip-in to end the first half) were among the team’s most memorable of the game. To end the contest, he had two of Syracuse’s three made baskets over a 12-minute stretch. By that measure, he was SU’s top offensive weapon for over a quarter of the game’s 40 minutes.
This was all unthinkable as recently as Thanksgiving. It’s still a little tough to stomach now (no offense to Coleman, of course).
Syracuse has a lot of corrections to make if they want to right the ship on this season. But one of the keys to their success going forward will be Coleman’s continued presence on both ends of the floor. These past few games have been impressive despite the losing efforts for the team. Let’s hope Coleman can keep this going and eventually the rest of the Orange joins him in some successful basketball.