As we countdown to the start of the college basketball season, The Juice Online will tackle a burning question about the Syracuse basketball team in “Tipoff Countdown.”
Today’s topic: Syracuse once again has tremendous front court depth this season and plenty of lineup combinations. In their exhibition opener against Pace, what did you think of SU’s starting lineup?
Syracuse used a variety of lineups against Pace during Thursday night’s 99-63 demolition of Pace. James Southerland played some guard. Jermari Grant saw extended minutes. And, of significant interest, DaJuan Coleman started at wing while Rakeem Christmas played center. Senior James Southerland came off the bench.
It will be interesting to see if Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim keeps the same lineup for the rest of the season. At 6 foot 9, and 275 pounds, Coleman would be one of the biggest wings in the 2-3 zone’s history.
Though Christmas gained 20 pounds of muscle in the offsesaon, he started most of his freshman year at wing, and, of the two, seems like the more natural fit at wing.
That being said, Coleman looked nimble and moved well for someone of his size.
What will Boeheim ultimately decide? Will he swap Christmas and Coleman? Will Southerland eventually gain the starting position?
Here are some opinions of how the starting lineup will go:
Saugat Sen: I like Christmas at center. He was an All-American at center from high school and you could tell he’s more confident playing the middle of the zone. He had a great run during the NCAA tournament when Melo was out. But I’d rather see Southerland at the other forward position. Come Big East time, Coleman won’t match up well against quicker wings in the Big East. Plus, I think you’re going to see a more consistent Southerland this season. If you look at the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, he averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds. I’d bring Coleman off the bench.
Nate Federman: Frankly, I was surprised that Coleman played wing, but I thought he looked OK. He was quicker than I expected and moved well. We’ll see how this plays out, because Coleman only played center when Syracuse went small with Fair/Southerland/Grant as the other front line players. I don’t think we’ll know enough about whether this lineup will work until the San Diego State game. That will be the real indicator.
Wesley Cheng: Traditionally, Boeheim has favored a bigger starting lineup. When you look back at the 2010 team, Boeheim had Kris Joseph coming off the bench and opted to go with Jackson at the wing. Last season, Christmas started ahead of Fair. So, I wasn’t surprised to see Christmas and Coleman in there at the same time. But, I was surprised about Coleman playing the wing, though he moved well for a guy of his size. But you have to focus on the last six words of that sentence: “For a guy of his size.” Sure, he can start at wing against Colgate, but I don’t think that’s going to work against teams like Louisville and Notre Dame. I’d personally prefer Rak and Coleman switch spots. Also, I do like Southerland as the sixth man. He’s a perfect instant offense guy.
Those are our thoughts… What are yours?