NEW YORK — Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had few positive things to say following Syracuse’s 52-50 loss to UConn on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
From lamenting about the lack of production at point guard to the reluctance of Tyler Lydon shooting the ball, Boeheim had plenty to choose from.
But Boeheim, never one to be effusive, approached that territory when asked to describe Dajuan Coleman’s performance.
“I thought he was good out there rebounding the ball,” Boeheim said. “He was great inside. He did a good job.”
Coleman, did, in fact, do a good job.
With 10 points and 16 rebounds, it was the third straight game that Coleman had put up gaudy numbers. It started with 12 points in a 77-60 loss to No. 17 Wisconsin and continued through to a 15-point, 6-rebound game against North Florida.
Over the past three games, Coleman has averaged 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while playing 29 minutes per game. Compare that to his first five games, when he averaged just 13.8 minutes per game, 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Perhaps the best part is that there’s no reason to think Coleman’s production won’t continue given that Boeheim has tightened his rotation over the last three games. Already, Boeheim has deemed Paschal Chukwu not ready to play significant minutes against tougher competition.
That has left Coleman and Tyler Lydon playing all of the minutes at center.
If Coleman plays 30 minutes a game (so long as his body allows it), then a mark of 12 points and 8 rebounds per game doesn’t sound too far fetched, especially now that SU seems more willing to feature him inside.
Let’s think about the significance of that improvement.
In his third year at Syracuse, Coleman averaged 4.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 17.5 minutes per game. Assuming for now that Coleman can sustain 12 points and 8 rebounds per game, that would lead to a +7.1 ppg and +3.3 rpg improvement.
The uptick from his third to final year would be the most significant since Rakeem Christmas’ junior to senior year jump in 2015, when Christmas went +11.7 ppg and +4.0 rpg.
When I wrote earlier in the year about Tyler Roberson’s potential jump in his senior season, I looked back on the improvement of SU big men over the last 10 years. Aside from Christmas, this jump in production from Coleman would be the second largest jump in this time period.
The next closest would be Rick Jackson, who gained +3.4 ppg and +3.3 rpg in his senior year.
This is not to say that Coleman has particularly enjoyed his recent productive stretch given that SU has lost two of those three games.
“I don’t care about how well I played,” Coleman said, “because we lost.”
Still, with a few more performances like Monday evening, and Coleman could be a big reason why SU starts to win again.