Boeheim: Roberson and Coleman have to be better

Through two games, Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman have been less than impressive.

"I didn't see much there tonight," was Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim's reaction to Tyler Roberson's opening-night performance last week.

In the season-opening 10-point victory over Lehigh, Roberson was held scoreless, going 0-for-3 from the field in 21 minutes. He looked lost on the offensive end of the floor and his rebounding was sub-par, as he finished with only five. Freshman Tyler Lydon stepped up in his absence, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. 

Against St. Bonaventure, the junior forward finished with 6 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes. Roberson was much more aggressive in Tuesday's win, which ultimately led to him fouling out with 4:26 remaining in the game. Syracuse led by 6 at the time, which is when Dajuan Coleman re-entered the game. Tuesday's performance was better, much better, but still not good enough, according to coach Boeheim. 

"He's got to be better," Boeheim said of Roberson following Tuesday's 79-66 victory over St. Bonaventure. "He's got to be more active, he's got to finish better, and he's just got to be a better player for us as we go along."

Coach Boeheim didn't stop there, "There would be years that if he (Roberson) played like this, he wouldn't play. He's got to be better."

His counterpart, Dajuan Coleman, hasn't been much better. In fact, he's played less, and worse, than Roberson has.

Against Lehigh, Coleman found himself in early foul trouble which led to a seat on the bench for the final fifteen minutes of the first half. The former Jamesville-DeWitt star finished with 2 points and 2 rebounds in a whopping 13 minutes. 

You can't expect Dajuan to come back and play like the five-star recruit that he was, but you do expect more than 13 minutes of action. 

Like Roberson, Coleman played better against St. Bonaventure. He scored four points and dominated the boards in the final few minutes. It wasn't great, but it was an improvement. 

"I thought it was good at the end for Dajuan to get back in and grab a couple rebounds. I think, obviously, he has a long way to come back and it's going to take some time," coach Boeheim said.

Despite averaging 13.5 minutes through the first two games, coach Boeheim still isn't limiting his minutes. "He might play thirty minutes next game, I don't know. I watch the games and try to decide who should be in the games." 

In those 13.5 minutes per game, Coleman is averaging 3 points and 3 rebounds. Jim Boeheim told the media he didn't know what to expect from Dajuan coming into the season, "He hasn't played in two years. I didn't expect him to come out here and get 15 points and 10 rebounds. It never crossed my mind. It would be OK if it did. He's just trying to feel his way."

Boeheim cites defense as to why Lydon played more minutes over Coleman against Bonaventure, "Tyler Lydon just did a better job in there defensively. Chinonso went in and didn't do very good, Tyler did. I'm here to win. I don't give a s--t who plays." 

"Dajuan has to be better," the Hall-of-Famer reiterated. "I think Dajuan can still help us. I don't expect anything right away. We'll just have to see how it all goes."

No matter what Coleman gives Syracuse on the floor, he's an x-factor. He's an extremely underrated rebounder, something Syracuse doesn't do very well. Outside of Tyler Roberson and Coleman, the Orange struggle on the glass. Coach Boeheim went with a smaller lineup against Bonaventure that consisted of Franklin HowardTrevor CooneyMalachi RichardsonMichael Gbinije and Tyler Lydon. At one point in the first half against Bonaventure, Syracuse was being out-rebounded 17-4. The Bonnies finished with 24 offensive rebounds, which led to 29 second-chance points. It's nearly a miracle that Syracuse won the game by 13 points.

When the Orange go with a smaller lineup, they're going to struggle on the glass. But when Coleman and Roberson, who Trevor Cooney called one of the best rebounders in the country, are on the floor, there's no excuse to perform on the glass.

The smaller lineup presents more offensive threats for the Orange, but is it worth the lack of rebounders? After watching the first half against St. Bonaventure, it's easy to say no. However, only time will tell.


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