Lauren Murphy | Asst. Photo EditorMen's Basketball
Coleman, Grant combine for 25 points in win over Eastern Michigan
DaJuan Coleman knows he’s going to get his minutes. As a starter, he’ll get time to make progress. Jerami Grant never knows when he’s going to play, or if he’s even going to see time on the floor. He has two experienced forwards in front of him. When he steps on the court, he has to make the most of the opportunity.
Both Coleman and Grant were hyped coming into the season, expected to be dominant presences down low and give Syracuse supreme size on the backline. Their playing time might be different, but their progress is similar. Coleman scored 14 points in 22 minutes in the Orange’s 84-48 win over Eastern Michigan on Monday, while Grant scored 11 points off the bench in 15 minutes.
Grant came into the game with just more than six minutes left in the first half, replacing C.J. Fair, and proved to head coach Jim Boeheim that he deserved to be there.
“I think it’s good to get him in as much as we can in game situations,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “If you do get a game that you think you can get control of, he was in there when it was close and he responded well. He was probably the best player in the first half on the team.”
Grant said he was nervous when he first took the floor. After committing a foul almost immediately after subbing in, Grant wouldn’t make many more mistakes. With just under five minutes left in the first half, he hit a mid-range jumper in the paint that put Syracuse up 22-14.
About two minutes later, Brandon Triche grabbed a rebound on an Eagles miss and fed Grant for a fast-break layup. SU transfer Da’Shonte Riley fouled him on the play, and Grant converted the 3-point play.
He came up with a huge play defensively less than a minute later with a block on Eastern Michigan’s Matt Balkema.
“After I was on the court for a little bit, I started to loosen up,” Grant said. “I just wanted to be as aggressive as possible getting in the game because you never know how long you’re going to play in the game.”
It’s different for Coleman.
If he starts the game off well, he’s likely to stay in there. And for a player replacing the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Fab Melo, Coleman’s showing steady progression just six games into his time with Syracuse. Boeheim said after the game that if he gets the ball in the right areas, he’s able to finish around the basket.
“When I slow down I finish better,” Coleman said. “Don’t try to speed up the shot because when I speed it up I miss sometimes. I just want to be comfortable down low and just play my game.”
With just less than five minutes left in the game, he took over for a brief stretch.
Rakeem Christmas fed Coleman a perfect pass, hitting him right in the chest under the basket and Coleman smoothly made the layup. On the Orange’s next possession, Triche missed a fadeaway jumper and Christmas followed it up with a miss of his own. But Coleman rebounded Christmas’ miss and got the putback.
EMU’s Glenn Bryant then missed a jumper and Triche grabbed the rebound. He then fed Coleman for a fast-break layup. Coleman’s three straight buckets gave him 14 on the night, surpassing his previous high of 12 that he scored against Colgate.
“I just want to take it game by game. Tonight I felt real comfortable,” Coleman said. “My main focus is just getting offensive and defensive rebounds and scoring when necessary.”
At separate points of the game, Coleman and Grant each showed how they’re progressing through six games.
Coleman’s taking it game by game. Grant’s going minute by minute. Either way, they’re making the most of their minutes.
“You definitely have to take advantage of the chances you get,” Grant said. “So when I got on the court, that’s what I did.”
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