Inside Importance

The junior big man shares his take on the Hoyas rivalry in its final Big East season as well as his thoughts on the center position and the team with CuseNation.com inside.

Junior center Baye Keita is not hiding that hosting the Georgetown Hoyas has a special place in the history of the Syracuse Orange.

"That's gonna be a good game," said Keita. "They [have] always been tough on us and they play physical. So, it means a lot because the rivalry [has] been going for a long time, so they're probably going to take it into playing the last game here with them and going there to play against them. Maybe play against them in the…[Big East] Tournament. So, this means a lot because it's gonna be the last game home."

Joining Keita and the Orange will be more than 35,000 on-lookers inside the Carrier Dome. "This means a lot because the fans is what make the building rock," Keita expressed. "So, when the fans come, it's always gonna help us play hard and just give everything we have every night."

But Keita wants to make it clear that the Orange facing the Hoyas, though rich in history, does not mean that the Orange play at a lower level versus other opponents. "Every night we go out, we [are] gonna play hard," Keita remarked. "We just gotta take one game at a time because we play Saturday and then have another tough one on Monday, so just gonna go ahead and play hard because they play hard every game and they were physical, so we just have to go and play physical like them."

Playing physical does not come without its casualties. With the frontcourt already facing shortages in the previous absence of senior forward James Southerland and now with freshman center DaJuan Coleman, it is even more imperative that the team steers clear of foul trouble. "That's a huge thing because right now with DC (DaJuan Coleman) out, me and Rock (Rakeem Christmas) are the two big bodies inside," Keita shared.

Both Keita and sophomore forward Rakeem Christmas have accumulated four fouls in seven games apiece this season. They have each fouled out of one of those games.

Outside of Keita and Christmas, Syracuse is lacking in options at the center position as Coleman continues to rehabilitate his body from his recent surgery.

However, Keita has noticed a potential aid in that position, if needed. "[Against Providence] I was kinda surprised Jerami [Grant] played center a little bit at the end," Keita remarked. "Kinda getting used to it, too. I think it just tried to show him like he can play center. And, all of us, me and Rock, now we need to play smarter because they're gonna need us at the end."


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