Learning As He Grows

The freshman center talks with CuseNation.com on what he is doing to get better, his take on his fellow newcomers, Southerland's absence, and more inside.

Syracuse Orange men's basketball starting center DaJuan Coleman did not have time to breathe when he entered into Syracuse University.

From the first game, head coach Jim Boeheim has asked Coleman to be on the floor to get the team started.

There is no dominant veteran center in front of him. He is the player whose inside presence can help the Orange gain early momentum.

Through Syracuse's first 17 games, Coleman has averaged just under six points per game to with a little over five rebounds per game.

He has scored in double-figures four times, but the fluctuation of his minutes has affected how many opportunities he takes.

"I just try to bring the energy and anything I can do to get the team pumped up because when you get the team pumped up, I mean, everbody's scoring, everybody [is] involved, the crowd [is] involved, and it kinda shift our way," said Coleman. "So that's what I try to do. that's the player I'm trying to be."

In Syracuse's last match, coming at home against the Villanova Wildcats, Coleman stayed about average with six points, but his points came in the second half as he attacked the very physical defense of the Wildcats.

Coleman's energy in the second half was tangible to the surrounding crowd of more than 27,000 at the Carrier Dome.

"We just made a couple adjustments," Coleman stated. "[Head] coach [Jim Boeheim] told us to get after it more, and that's what we did." Syracuse increased their shooting percentage from 30.3% in the first half to 54.5% in the second half. Coleman paralleled the overall output of the Orange, making two of this three attempts in the second half.

But, it was not just about shooting better. Coleman knows the importance of the other side of the ball in leading to victories. "This last month, I just dedicated myself to defense, to get better on defense because defense wins championships," Coleman expressed. "That's what we wanna do."

Since the loss to the Temple Owls on December 22nd, Coleman and the Orange have not allowed any of their last six opponents to reach 70 points, and half of them have not even been allowed to attain 60 points.

However, Coleman understands that the team will have to move forward without one of their big offensive presences for an undisclosed amount of time, with senior forward James Southerland inactive.

"It's definitely a blow but we just gotta pick 'em up as a team and just not let him down when he [is] out," Coleman remarked. "Hopefully he [will] be back as soon as possible."

In Southerland's absence, Coleman has seen the success that his fellow newcomers on the Orange have provided for the team, including in the team's last win over the Wildcats.

"They played great out there. I mean, [Jerami] grant had good hustle, a lot of hustle plays, a putback," said Coleman. "[Trevor] Cooney just came out shooting right with the ball. "If we keep playing like that, we gonna be pretty good."

Coleman and his Syracuse peers take the court again this Saturday, January 19th, at 4pm ET.

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