College fanbases react to the length of an athlete's career in multiple ways. Sometimes it seems as though the student-athlete has been at the college "forever," while the stay for others seems to have been cut too short. To me, Dajuan Coleman is the rare breed that fits into both of these categories.
Despite the fact that this will be his fifth year at Syracuse, a lot of the time Coleman could have spent on the court was unfortunately limited due to injury. He missed a stretch of games his freshman year due to a knee injury. Another knee injury prematurely ended his sophomore season and made him miss all of his junior year. Last year, he was finally healthy and he played in all 37 games. In an article from Syracuse.com's Mike Waters, Coleman says he is looking to use that as momentum headed into his last year of eligibility with the Orange.
"That was a big accomplishment for me," he said. "Every year that I'd played, I'd had some type of injury or I was out. Just getting through the whole season felt good."
Now, for the first time since the summer before his freshman year, Coleman will have a full summer of health, giving him a chance to work on improving his game as opposed to trying to work his way back onto the court. His final season in Orange will be one of redemption, along with a great opportunity to bring his game to new heights.
"The only thing I was really able to do was shoot around, lift weights and rehab. This summer, I get to run and get back to doing everything I was doing back in my freshman year," he said.
Coleman says he has been taking advantage of his time in the gym, working as hard as he can to improve his conditioning and strength along with his game. After being limited in his workouts during the summer before the season, he returned to the court in the fall of 2015 with a lot of work to do. He still felt very inexperienced at the beginning of the year, but as Coach Mike Hopkins eased him back into the swing of things, he gained more confidence and Jim Boeheim trusted him enough to give him more playing time as the season went along.
While Coleman has seen his minutes per game numbers increase over the course of his career, his production has stayed relatively the same. For his career he averages 4.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, very similar to the numbers he put up freshman year. With a healthy summer filled with a lot of work under his belt, it is now time for him to expand his game and take on a larger role, especially after last year's Final Four team lost its three leading scorers.
"We lost three good players and a lot of points," he said. "We need players to step up and I'm ready for that role. I'm a lot more confident in my game than I was in the past few years. I can't wait 'til next year."