Expect to see more of Rakeem Christmas on the court this year. It’s his last year on Jim Boeheim Court, and the Orange has high hopes for the forward.
With a balanced amount of talent among the starting five, it’s hard to gauge whether the Orange will have just one standout player (although early reports on Chris McCullough may prove otherwise). After losing the top three scorers last year (Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair), someone needs to step up. There’s hope that Christmas could help fill that role.
“Christmas is like a big teddy bear,” said assistant coach Mike Hopkins. “The team enjoys and respects him. He worked hard this summer and is energized and excited for a larger role with the team.”
His promise comes from not only innate talent, but diligent hard work over the past three years under Boeheim’s watchful eye and the fact that he’s an upperclassman.
But Christmas is modest. When asked about his new role on the team this year, he said, “I just want to support my teammates.”
And those teammates, many of them recruits with little playing time, have a lot of room to make their own mark this season.
“We had some great recruits last year that did not see as much playing time as they may have liked,” said Hopkins. “With the more minutes they will be playing, this is their year to come out and help us out.”
That’s a head nod to Roberson, Patterson and Johnson.
Syracuse has a solid squad, including a freshman point guard, Kaleb Joseph, who is thrilled for the season to start, and veteran forward, Christmas, who is excited for a bigger role.
If Christmas leads a team that manages to work well together and maximize the differnet levels of talent, the future can still be bright.
“We have a lot of young guys that will have an opportunity to prove themselves,” Boeheim said. “We feel we have young, talented guys, and we think they are very capable of doing what we need them to do.”