first_imgSOUTH BEND, Ind. — Dajuan Coleman had barely played during Syracuse’s conference slate, with only 36 seconds to his name through six games.His knees, SU head coach Jim Boeheim frequently reiterated, relegated the fifth-year senior to a spectator’s role. Coleman wanted to play. He showed he could with five double-digit scoring games in the Orange’s eight contests prior to conference play. But a lack of mobility in practice gave Boeheim the only indication he needed.On Saturday, just over five minutes into the game, Coleman rose from his seat on the bench for the first time in over four and a half games to replace Andrew White. This wasn’t just a cameo, as Coleman logged 23 minutes in Syracuse’s 84-66 loss to then-No. 15 Notre Dame. He scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds, offering even the slightest optimism that he could be a factor when the Orange (11-9, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) tries to right the ship against Wake Forest (12-7, 3-4) in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday at 8 p.m.“I think I just came into the game prepared I was going to get in the game,” Coleman said. “That’s how I come to every game.”Coleman, with two hefty ice bags strapped to his knees in the Purcell Pavilion locker room on Saturday, admitted he was “a little” surprised that he had played as much as he did against the Fighting Irish. He’s wanted to play. He thinks he’s been able to play. But in the end, Boeheim’s opinion reigns supreme. And despite the head coach fiddling with different configurations in his frontcourt, none included the most experienced option.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEven in the 18-point shellacking dealt to Syracuse, Coleman showed a glimpse of what the Orange has been missing. On most days, he’s the biggest body on the court. His seven rebounds were second only to Tyler Lydon’s 10, and the sophomore played all 40 minutes. The Orange hasn’t received much scoring in the post aside from Lydon, and Coleman chipped in two buckets from the paint.But, there are times when it shows he’s played only 36 seconds in ACC play. Against UND, he committed four fouls in just 23 minutes. He also threw a pass right to Rex Pflueger after securing a rebound, leading to an easy two points for Matt Farrell.“His offense is … Defensively, he just can’t move his feet,” Boeheim said, seeming to struggle for a definitive description for how his big man progressed in one game.The head coach also noted that he was largely disappointed in the production from his two seniors, the ones who have been at Syracuse beyond just this year, Coleman and Tyler Roberson.While Coleman hasn’t exactly lived up to his McDonald’s All-American branding in his almost five years at SU, it’s largely in part to two season-ending knee surgeries and the lingering after effects that have stayed with him the past two seasons.Coleman will never be the top-15 recruit Syracuse once signed, but five points, seven rebounds and 23 minutes have become – whether Boeheim deems it sufficient or not – as much, if not more, of what can be expected from Coleman on a given night.“It’s just something you have to play through,” Coleman said. “It’s normal to play through. Even last year, they were a little bit sore but that’s just something you have to play through.”For the first part of this season, it appeared Coleman could play through his soreness without difficulty. In the Orange’s loss to St. John’s just over a month ago, Coleman opened the second half with three straight buckets to give Syracuse temporary hope. That feeling then faded, just like the hopes for any significant contributions from the big man.But if anything, Saturday’s stint showed that he may have something left. Even if it can’t turn around Syracuse’s season.“That’s nothing I can really have too much focus,” Coleman said of his playing time. “If you focus on that, you’re just gonna go crazy.” Comments Published on January 23, 2017 at 11:44 pm Contact Matt: | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img