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Syracuse basketball: Orange boys bulk up, primed for big season

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The Syracuse basketball guys have bulked up for the upcoming season.

Texas Southern v Syracuse

Prior to last season it was announced that incoming freshman forward Tyler Lydon would play spot minutes at the center position. Weighing in at just 205 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame, some local pundits (mostly me) were skeptical. In hindsight, Lydon went on to have a stellar freshman season and held down the center spot just fine when asked to do so, especially in tournament play. He went on to record the most blocks by a freshman not named Kevin Love, Alonzo Mourning or Anthony Davis in the NCAA Tournament, including the second best block in Syracuse history.

With his freshman season under his belt, Lydon has looked to add weight to his frame in the offseason. Mike Waters recently spoke with Ryan Cabiles, Syracuse’s strength and conditioning coach, to see how Lydon and his teammates have progressed during the summer months. Most notably, rising sophomore Franklin Howard has made the biggest jump in adding weight to his body and is now listed at 205 pounds.

I had him pretty much all summer,” Cabiles said of Howard.

Frank went through an injury in high school, so we’ve been working on his legs and getting him a lot stronger. He’s worked hard.”

As noted by Waters, Howard was listed at 170 before the start of his freshman campaign. In reality, he was closer to weighing 180 or 185 according to Cabiles, but putting a minimum of 20 pounds in one year is no small feat.

Lydon has also put on nearly 20 pounds since his arrival on The Hill and is up to 223 pounds. Although Lydon will see less time at the center spot with Paschal Chukwu in the fold, he could still be used in that position for spot minutes. The added weight will help him bang with bigs inside and rebound from the wing position on defense. On the offensive side, Lydon should be a lot stronger with the ball and finishing through contact. These are skills that will be needed as he transitions from third or fourth option on offense to being the first option.

Speaking of Chukwu, he’s stayed firm at 226 pounds from a season ago.

“We really just tried to work on his strength. With guys like him, he’s in a situation like Baye Keita where we try to get some weight on him and we have. But it’s hard for them to gain weight. There were times where he was at 217, 218 but 226 has been pretty solid for him right now. With that, we’ve focussed on strength with him,” Said Cabiles.

This shouldn’t be too much of a concern. What it likely means is that Chukwu has trimmed his body fat and added muscle over the course of a year. Chukwu doesn’t have the build to be an Arinze Onuaku type of center, and to be frank, I’m not sure you’d want him to be.

Coming into the 2015-2016 season, Tyler Roberson weighed 212 pounds. Now the rising senior is up to 226 pounds and will likely lead Syracuse in rebounding this year. Recently Donna Ditota wrote a nice profile on Roberson while catching up with him in Union, NJ over the summer. His jumper looks to be improved.

Elsewhere, Dajuan Coleman has continued to slim down and now weighs 258 pounds after coming in at 268 pounds last season. He’s lost approximately 40 pounds since coming to Syracuse as a freshman.

With solid work in the offseason, Syracuse’s returning players looked prepared to navigate the choppy waters of the ACC.