Syracuse’s front court just took a major hit with the announcement that DaJuan Coleman will miss the next 4-6 weeks after left knee surgery.
Coleman has been the Orange’s secondary threat down low. The 6-9, 288-pound freshman is averaging 5.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season. Though he’s struggled as of late, scoring just nine points in his last five games, averaging 6.2 minutes per game.
He’s definitely shown flashes that he can follow in the footsteps of players like Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson has high-level big men who develop over their careers.
Without Jackson, coach Jim Boeheim is going to lose depth in the middle of that 2-3 Zone, defensively. Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita (a combined 10.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game) will see increased minutes, as will Jerami Grant.
The bad news? This brings the Orange to just seven scholarship players. Maybe Boeheim can call Rick Ray at Mississippi State and ask for some advice.
The Orange didn’t really have an elite big man this season. They’ve been going with that three-man rotation, anyway. So now it just turns into a two-man rotation. Tough math, I know.
Coleman was by-far the biggest of the big bodies for Syracuse, and his absence may allow some teams to go bigger if allowed. Teams like Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and St. John’s come to mind, and they just happen to be the Orange’s next three opponents. Only the Panthers are on the road, however.
The interesting thing for Syracuse’s standpoint will see how it affects Michael Carter-Williams. James Southerland is still out with the academic issue, now it’s Coleman. Who does MCW get more involved now as the facilitator? And will they slide into an already-determined role or create their own to accompany Carter-Williams?
David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.