Big men look to continue improved production against High Point

first_imgSyracuse’s frontcourt production has been incredibly lopsided through 10 games this season.C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant dominate the touches in the high post and on the wing while SU’s trio of centers get minimal opportunities in the low post.But Sunday, Rakeem Christmas proved it may be worth giving him and DaJuan Coleman more designed plays on the block.“I thought Rakeem made a couple really good plays,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the Orange’s 68-63 win over St. John’s. “I thought there were three or four more times where he was open, but we’re not used to getting him the ball.“We’ve got to get better at that. We’ve got to work at that. We need that threat down there in the low post.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textChristmas finished with eight points on 3-of-3 shooting against the Red Storm, including a flashy spin-to-the-right finish midway through the first half. Up until Sunday, Coleman’s baby hooks and putback layups highlighted the Syracuse centers’ near-nonexistent offensive production. But Christmas proved he can be counted on to balance the front court at times, as well.The duo will look to continue to increase its production when the No. 2 Orange (10-0) hosts High Point (3-6) on Friday at 7 p.m.“We’ve got to keep working on those two guys, getting them better offensively,” Boeheim said. “We’ve got to get better play inside, and that’s something that we’re working on really hard.”Boeheim said Mike Hopkins is at the heart of that work. Hopkins has been working with the big men to establish post-move repertoires since the start of the preseason. It showed in Coleman’s footwork and quick second-jumping ability early on, but Christmas’ growth hadn’t carried over to games until a two-possession series on Sunday.First Christmas drew a foul on Sir’Dominic Pointer on a strong take to the rim with 9:40 left in the first half. He made both free throws.Less than a minute later, he drove the ball from the high post, smoothly twisted through the paint and floated a shot up and in.“He’s making confident moves,” Fair said. “It’s good to see when Coach runs a play for him and he converts. It gives Coach confidence and him confidence.”But during the ensuing handful of possessions, Christmas established solid position on the block and his teammates failed to find him. Fair elected to swing the ball back around the perimeter and Tyler Ennis turned away from Christmas for a late Trevor Cooney cut.After the game, Grant echoed Boeheim’s statement that Christmas deserved more touches.“We’ve just got to get him the ball.” Grant said. “When he got the ball he scored or got fouled.”When Fair catches the ball on the baseline, or Grant in the high post, defenders have pressed up on them, and weak-side help has come off the centers to help on drives. But if Christmas and Coleman can knock down a couple more baskets each, those defenses will have to stay more balanced.That would also open up more shots for Cooney and Fair on the perimeter.“If the team’s knowing (Christmas) is going to score down low, it makes everybody’s job easier,” Fair said.High Point offers a chance to give both Christmas and Coleman additional opportunities in the paint against an inferior opponent.Maybe neither will emerge as a reliable offensive contributor, but there won’t be many chances for extra game reps after Friday.Boeheim said the team still has a long way to go to become a national contender, and a balanced front court would be a tremendous asset for the Orange.Said Grant: “All our post players are great in practice. They’re coming along in games now.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1last_img

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