SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was without Naheem McLeod for the first time all season on Wednesday night. The 7-foot-4 big man was held out of the Boston College game with a right foot injury. McLeod is out for an unspecified amount of time.
“We should know something in a couple of days and we’ll be able to go from there,” Head coach Adrian Autry said post-game.
The injury to the right foot didn’t occur at one particular instance. Rather, it has progressed over time, according to a team spokesman.
McLeod was at the JMA Wireless Dome for the Boston College game with a walking boot around his foot and a knee scooter for support. He sat one row behind his Syracuse teammates and was unable to gather in team huddles.
Maliq Brown started in his place. It was the first start of the season for Brown and his first start at center, but the eighth start for him at Syracuse. Faced with a difficult challenge in Boston College center Quinten Post, Brown neutralized the Netherlands big man and held scoreless for the first time all season. Post came into the night fifth in the ACC in scoring.
“I thought Maliq was phenomenal,” Autry began. “I was worried about the foul situation. He did a good job of not getting fouls. I thought he moved his feet. I thought he was physical. He was quicker.”
Brown said he didn’t feel any pressure starting in place of McLeod, nor did he feel any added weight knowing he wasn’t available.
“Not really any pressure. Just being focused and ready every game. Taking every match personal just like I’ve been,” Brown said.
Brown has been excellent for Syracuse all season, but in his last five games he’s raised the bar, scoring 88 points and grabbing 35 rebounds. Against Boston College he finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks.
Still, he’s rather modest over his strong production, unassuming and seemingly as efficient with his words as he is with his on court play. Brown summarized his performance: “Just helping my teammates out, screening and being open. Also with them knowing that I’m going to be open in mismatches and helping find me in my little spots.”
Perhaps that’s all there is to it. Judah Mintz summarized as succinctly.
“Maliq’s amazing,” He said.
What more needs to be said?
Going forward Brown is expected to start as long as McLeod is sidelined. Autry said he thought Mounir Hima gave Syracuse some good minutes. It was just the fourth time Hima’s been called to action on this season.
As for how Syracuse will manage the center position for the foreseeable future, it will be done by Brown and committee.
“We still have Peter Carey. Sometimes you might have to sneak Benny [Williams] in there every now and then. But I think Maliq will get the bulk of those minutes,” Autry said.
As for what changes based on which player moves to center?
“We want to play the same,” Mintz said. “Our ball screen defense is a little different. It’s not the same type of presence down low but we still have dudes that can make plays down low and block shots.”