Tonight on his radio show, Hopkins said he took into consideration what lineups Boeheim used in the Battle 4 Atlantis, even joking that the 71-year-old head coach would criticize his use of freshman Tyler Lydon, "You should've put Tyler Lydon in earlier, what were you doing?"
On Saturday, we saw lineups that consisted of Gbinije-Cooney-Richardson-Roberson-Coleman, Joseph-Cooney-Gbinije-Lydon-Coleman, Howard-Cooney-Gbinije-Lydon-Coleman, Howard-Richardson-Gbinije-Roberson-Lydon, among a few others.
Syracuse received a spark off the bench from freshman guard Frank Howard, who returned home to the D.C. area for the first time in an SU uniform. In thirteen minutes, Howard finished with four points, four rebound and two assists. But more importantly, he didn't commit any turnovers. Hopkins relied on Howard over sophomore guard Kaleb Joseph, which may have surprised some people. Coach Hop has been a firm supporter of Joseph and said Frank isn't ahead of Kaleb in the rotation, he just played better on Saturday.
If Boeheim were coaching the Orange on Saturday, it's fair to say that Frank wouldn't have received extended minutes, or possibly any minutes at all. He hadn't played in the previous two games, and had played only 27 minutes in the first five games, where he scored one point.
Senior center Dajuan Coleman also received extended playing time, logging 21 minutes for the Orange. The Jamesville-DeWitt grad scored ten points, grabbed five rebounds and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. When given the opportunity, Coleman proved he can produce for the Orange. Over the last two games, Syracuse fans, and coaches, have realized that freshman Tyler Lydon just isn't strong enough to hold his own against aggressive centers. He's built to play the stretch four, not the five against major D-1 opponents.
Bradley Hayes, a 7-foot-0 center for the Hoyas, had a career-high 21 points against the Orange on Saturday. He added ten rebounds for his first career double-double. Lydon was overmatched and undersized against Hayes, who is averaging just over ten points per game this season.
Coleman isn't the most talented center in the country, but he's big and strong, something that Lydon isn't. It's hard to move Dajuan out of the paint, and I can promise you that no one will run him over. Whether or not Coleman does anything on the offensive end, he can be Syracuse's rock in the middle of the 2-3 zone. He can help this team, especially on the glass.
Over the next eight games with Mike Hopkins at the helm, expect Coleman to hover around twenty minutes per game.
As former SU big-man Terrence Roberts told me last week, "He just has to go out there and be the star that we all know he can be."