After a while, something happening over and over again is more than just coincidence. It then is looked on as a pattern. If it continues, it becomes expected.
It's far more than coincidence that quite a few Orange sophomores have had seasons that exceeded their so-so freshman campaigns. As the father of four, step-father of three and a former youth coach, I have no idea how Jim Boeheim seems to get so many 19-year-olds to respond and improve in season two.
Oh wait, he doesn't deal with his own kids. That might be the secret.
I fully expect DaJuan Coleman to do what quite a few have done in the past. Step up and explode on the scene as a sophomore.
Let's walk down memory lane and remember those who came before DaJuan and then look at how he will join them as a super sophomore.
The "General" gave us no indication during his freshman season in 1985-86 of what was to come.
Backing up "Pearl" Washington, Sherman played 11.4 minutes per game as a freshman and averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 assists per game. He seemed to validate his status as a low-level recruit coming out of high school. Until a late offer from Syracuse, his only offer had been from Old Dominion.
When "Pearl" left for the NBA, Douglas came back for his sophomore year as the starting point guard. Saying he ran with the opportunity is quite an understatement.
Douglas was on the court for 32.6 minutes per game and took advantage of the time by improving to 17.3 points and 7.6 assists per game.
Douglas left Syracuse as the NCAA career leader in assists and was a 1989 second-round draft choice of the Miami Heat. He played in the NBA for 12 years.
Much like Douglas, Kris Joseph arrived in Syracuse with very little fanfare. Not much is expected of Canadian basketball players.
His freshman year in 2008-09 lived up to those expectations. He played 13.5 minutes and averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Then the magic of Boeheim happened.
Joseph came back in great shape, and his minutes jumped to 27.8 per game. He parlayed those into averages of 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
His effectiveness off the bench earned him the Big East Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Joseph went on to start and star in his next two seasons for the Orange. He was then chosen in the second round of the 2012 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics.
After some early season time on the Celtics roster, Joseph played very well in the D-League and is currently on the Brooklyn Nets roster.
Waiters is a bit different story than the ones we just discussed about Douglas and Joseph.
Dion came to Syracuse with expectations. He also came with a few extra pounds and some resistance to expending too much energy on the defensive end of the floor.
Neither of those sit well with Jim Boeheim.
After a freshman year averaging 16.3 minutes and 6.6 points per game off the bench, Waiters was told by his coach that he should expect to come off the bench behind Brandon Triche again his sophomore year. Many thought he would leave Syracuse.
Remarkably, Waiters listened to his coach and worked on both his shot and body in the summer. He came back in better shape physically and mentally. Waiters worked hard defensively and it paid off.
His minutes rose to 24.1 and his points to 12.6 per game. He became an enthusiastic and effective defender and was the fourth pick in the 2012 draft by Cleveland.
Not bad for coming off the bench.
Fab came to Syracuse with a name adored by Orange fans and the hype of being a McDonald's All-American. His freshman year?
Not so much.
Fab might have started 33 of the 35 Syracuse games his freshman year, but he didn't stay on the court very long in any of them.
He averaged just 9.9 minutes, 2.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game. He was out of shape and although willing, not very good in the middle of the vaunted 2-3 Orange zone.
But it was quite noticeable that while on the bench, Fab was always engaged and there for his teammates. He was enthusiastic and ready when called on.
He came back in better shape for year two and got great results to boot. He played 25.4 minutes per game and averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks.
Fab's outstanding sophomore campaign earned him Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors and a first-round selection in the 2012 draft by the Boston Celtics.
The 2011-12 season saw the Orange loaded in the backcourt with Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters. There wasn't much room for skinny, freshman Michael Carter-Williams.
Averages of 10.3 minutes, 2.7 points and 2.1 assists per game weren't what the McDonald's All-American expected his freshman year.
With Jardine and Waiters gone, MCW got his chance and took advantage of it.
He was on the court for 35.2 minutes and averaged 11.9 points, 7.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game. He was among the national leaders in both assists and steals.
At 6'6" and with great point guard skills, Carter-Williams is projected as a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
The stage is set for Coleman to be the next super Syracuse sophomore.
He came to Syracuse as one of the most sought after recruits of the 2012 class. New York State's Mr. Basketball and a starting center in the McDonald's All-American game, Coleman chose the Orange over Kentucky and Ohio State.
The 6'9" 288-pound big man actually had better freshman stats than Fab Melo, averaging 12.7 minutes, 4.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and .4 blocks per game. He was set back by minor knee surgery toward the end of the regular season and didn't contribute much to the Orange's Final Four run.
Coleman was the best offensive center on the roster last year. The problem was his grasp of the complexities of the zone, not uncommon for big men.
Coleman obviously has great size and was considered perhaps the strongest high school player in the country his senior year. Combining that size and strength with decent touch out to the three-point line gives Coleman a great offensive package.
This past season I saw the same engagement in DaJuan that I saw two years ago in Fab Melo. He was enthusiastic on the bench and ready to go.
One of the more interesting visuals of the great NCAA run by the Orange was the team huddles right before tipoff. As the players swayed and screamed to the ceiling together in a circle, who was in the middle leading the way?
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