Roberson: 28.7 min, 8.3 pts, 1.6 ast, 7.3 reb, 0.9 stl, 44.3 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 64.3 FT%
With so many interchangeable parts on the Syracuse Orange roster, a staple of Jim Boeheim's recruiting. it is often hard to identify exact positions or numbers on the floor. The naming of positions is very common in the NBA, but at Syracuse positions 3-5 (small forward, power forward and center) often rotate on the backline of the vaunted 2-3 zone. Some players who may be a three or four in the lineup could easily be a solid four or five on a mid-major Division I team. So, the position that a player is on defense could very well be different on the offensive end of the floor. This year’s combo forwards (those at the 3-4 spot) who may see some action at the traditional power forward position are: Tyler Roberson (Jr.), Tyler Lydon (Fr.) and DaJaun Coleman (Sr.). Coleman will primarily play center, but could play the four if the Orange go with a bigger lineup.
Tyler Roberson is probably the most traditional “power forward” on the Syracuse roster. He has received increasing minutes over the latter part of last season (he initially started at small forward), and will be the starter this season at the power forward spot. In his first two years with the Orange, Roberson has played in 47 games starting 19 of those contests. His role was much stronger last year averaging just over 28 minutes a game. With a lack of early depth near the basket, it would seem that he would continue increasing his minutes and role in the front court.
Scoring consistently has been an issue for Tyler Roberson as he has averaged only 5.5 points per game in two seasons, but did finish the 14-15 campaign with over eight poitns per game. He stepped up his offensive game down the stretch.
Rebounding is Roberson’s forte, with just over seven per game last season. For him to be effective this season, he will need to dominate the glass with double figure rebounds per game. It is also imperative to have an eye for the ball if Syracuse pushes their focus to outside shooting this season. More than half of long distance shots go long when missed, so getting position on the weak side is necessary for Roberson to give the Orange second chance points on the offensive end.
Statistically, there should be an improvement with more time on the court, and his length will naturally help the zone on the wings. However, an increase in Roberson’s field goal percentage and overall offensive output to balance his defensive prowess is what Syracuse will need from their role playing veteran.
Tyler Lydon was one of the top recruits for Syracuse heading into the 2015-2016 season. Truth be told, as with many college players and his Orange teammates, Lydon is a very interchangeable player that is more of a combo forward with the ability to play both the three and four positions on the floor. What appears promising for the ‘Cuse is that Lydon was a double-double machine at New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire. He is actually from just south of Albany, NY but has proved his devotion to the game of basketball by making the leap to prep school to hone his skills.
This often transfers in a freshman having an edge when it comes to the year-one adjustment to Division I basketball. It is also comforting that the first team AAA All-New England Prep player was one of only 12 players to participate for USA Basketball’s U-18 team at the 2014 FIBA America’s championship. Lydon took home gold with Team USA, and if Syracuse fans remember Carmelo Anthony, he had quite a USA Basketball résumé prior to wearing Orange.
This is not to make a realistic comparison, but Tyler Lydon stretches the floor at 6-8 being able to hit three’s and command the ball on the glass. He also is exactly what Syracuse recruits on the wings of the 2-3 Zone, in that his length will allow him to contest shots well on opposing shooters. Lydon also has solid lateral quickness to be able to defend the dribble drive and anticipate against the skip pass over the zone, but will need to use the weight room effectively.
This season will probably see Tyler Lydon playing more of the three spot on offense, but more of a power forward on defense. If Lydon can contribute, he may be that slightly unheralded top recruit, a la Gerry McNamara, who was the glue to a successful season playing well in the shadow of bigger name.
DaJuan Coleman will have a lot prove this season for Syracuse. He has always had a lot of expectation and pressure due to his namesake, but despite being considered a senior academically he has only played in 27 games through three seasons.
Due to various injury issues, Syracuse fans could see two more seasons with the Orange if he is able to stay healthy. It has also been difficult when you make the short walk from Jamesville-DeWitt to Syracuse University and the entire community watched you become a McDonald’s All-American, earn Mr. Basketball honors in New York State in 2012, and lead J-D to three consecutive NYS Class A basketball titles (2009-2011).
Pressure and expectation would be an understatement for DaJuan Coleman, but he seems to embrace it wanting this experience at SU to work. He like many teammates will be a combo player down low for the Orange. He will more than likely play the middle of the 2-3 Zone, a scheme which rarely covers the high post position initial. So, Coleman will have to prove that his knee injuries have recovered fully and he will able to quickly defend the high post, as well as short corner runners which is part of the high-low offenses that the ‘Cuse typically experience. Offensively, he will need to improve his back-to-the-basket repertoire, proving that he has an array of moves that opponents will need to respect. It is hard to foresee statistically what Coleman will bring this season, considering that the sample set has been so small.
Realistically speaking, Syracuse needs to see him grab 10-15 rebounds a game, and get his current scoring average of around five points per game to around at least eight. DaJuan Coleman’s best goal this year would be to emulate Charles Oakley, Moses Malone or Wes Unseld (dating myself, but look it up!) getting rebounds and out-letting the ball for an efficient fast break.
Again, Coleman is not likely to see much time at power forward unless Syracuse goes big. That scenario exists, and he is worth a mention here.