Bench pressed: Syracuse reserves look to increase production at Wake Forest

first_imgLast year, Jim Boeheim had James Southerland to come off the bench.Two years ago, he had Dion Waiters.The sixth man wasn’t a drop-off. Rather, it was a boost.This year, though, Boeheim has had no such luxury. Baye Moussa Keita, Michael Gbinije and Tyler Roberson are averaging eight points combined. That’s largely due to the dominance of the first unit, and, while Keita and Gbinije have contributed in chunks, they haven’t done so consistently.“I’m disappointed in our bench,” Boeheim said after SU’s 64-52 win over Miami on Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNo. 2 Syracuse (19-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast) will look for increased production from its bench Wednesday in a 9 p.m. tip at Wake Forest (14-6, 4-3). Boeheim said Syracuse’s bench may be a problem down the road, starting against the Demon Deacons. “It’s probably the toughest road game we’ve had so far this year,” SU forward Jerami Grant said.While Boeheim admitted he’s not overjoyed with the recent play of his bench overall, he was pleased with Keita’s minutes against the Hurricanes.Keita was active around the basket, finishing two layups and snagging rebounds over Miami’s Tonye Jekiri and James Kelly. He played 19 minutes and Boeheim didn’t feel the need to yank him shortly after he entered the game.His lankiness and comfort with the 2-3 zone have been assets for Syracuse in conference play.“I thought Baye gave us a big, big lift in this game,” Boeheim said.For Gbinije, though, his time on the court, particularly playing the point, was short-lived. Gbinije ran the show for two-and-a-half minutes in the first half, but Tyler Ennis replaced him after Garrius Adams hit a 3.Boeheim frowned and gave his classic casual finger point toward Ennis. Ennis jolted off the bench and Gbinije took his place on the sideline.With Ennis playing so well, minutes at point are sparse for the 6-foot-7 guard Gbinije. Ennis has played all but three total minutes in the Orange’s last three games. Gbinije has played just five, eight and six minutes in those games. He’s gone 0-for-1 from the field in each of the three games.Gbinije doesn’t find much time at the two, either, because of Trevor Cooney’s ability to get hot at any point. Cooney’s more of a threat to stroke it from downtown, which is the main reason he stays on the court.“Trevor doesn’t make many mistakes,” Boeheim said, “because he just catches and shoots it. It’s hard to make a mistake when that’s all you do.”Roberson, meanwhile, is still getting acclimated to playing college basketball. He’s shown flashes of potential and will likely be an integral part of the rotation the next two or three years. This year, though, he plays sparingly and has scored just one point in SU’s last four games.“We’ve got to get something out of somebody besides Baye,” Boeheim said.He said that starts with better practices, and that it’s important for Syracuse to rectify the problem. For a team stacked with talent, depth has been the only glaring issue — particularly in ACC play, where the competition has been stiffer.In five of the Orange’s first six games, its bench outscored that of the opposition. Once DaJuan Coleman missed his first game on Dec. 31, Grant moved into the starting lineup. That’s when the reserves’ production inevitably declined.Since Coleman has been sidelined, the SU bench has outscored its opponent’s bench just twice in seven games.Against North Carolina, the bench scored a total of three points. It was outscored 22-4 by Miami’s reserves on Saturday.But it didn’t matter all too much in either of those games. It hasn’t all season. “It don’t matter if you got outscored by the subs if you win,” C.J. Fair said.The starters have been sensational and the opposition has deliberately slowed the pace against Syracuse. The bench hasn’t had to produce all too much in order for Syracuse to win.But Boeheim conceded that teams could always change their approach, which is when the bench’s lack of production may become a problem.“If somebody started going up and down with us,” Boeheim said, “which I’m sure somebody will, then I think we’ll have to get some guys in there.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 29, 2014 at 2:17 am Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHasslast_img

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