MBB : Jackson sees more minutes, bigger role as SU’s 6th man
Coming into the season, Rick Jackson was expected to play an important role coming off the bench as a substitute for starting center Arinze Onuaku and maybe a little bit more.
But now, with five scholarship players gone and a bench that’s getting thinner almost by the day, Jackson’s role is suddenly a lot less defined and a lot more important.
Did he expect to be this depended-upon?
‘Yeah,’ Jackson said, laughing.
Now that is a surprise. Jackson, a 6-foot-9 freshman out of Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) High School, has been a steady contributor, playing 13.7 minutes per game, but his 17 minutes on Sunday may be more of a sign of things to come.
Jackson is now the sixth man on a team without many other options. His play against Providence, though, should be a good indication of how valuable he can be.
‘I thought he was good on the boards,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘I thought he made a big block down there. You know, he was active. He’s just got to get a little stronger – he gets a little stronger, he can finish better.’
Jackson finished with seven points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the game, although no play was bigger than his rejection of a Jamine Peterson layup attempt that would have tied the score at 46 with 8:25 remaining in the game. Jackson also had four offensive rebounds that kept Syracuse alive down the stretch.
‘I thought I played good, I had a lot of rebounds,’ Jackson said. ‘Once I rebound a lot I start feeling better, especially offensive rebounds.’
When asked why he made the decision to start Kris Ongeneat, who has played less minutes on the season, over Jackson, Boeheim said the choice was really easy.
‘Ricky’s our backup center, we’ve got to have him ready in case Arinze gets in foul trouble,’ Boeheim said.
Big on the boards
Syracuse had a significant height advantage over Providence, so Boeheim didn’t see his team’s effectiveness on the boards as much of a positive.
‘They went with a smaller team to get more shooting in the lineup,’ Boeheim said. ‘We should have done a good job inside, we should have been able to do that. That’s what we’re going to have to do in that situation.’
The Orange out-rebounded the Friars, 47-32 and added 17 offensive boards to blow Providence away in the battle inside, a crucial vantage point for Syracuse particularly in the second half.
Providence used a lineup primarily with its tallest player at 6-foot-8 and nowhere near the size and strength to consistently block out 258-pound Arinze Onuaku. Six-foot-11 Randall Hanke started the game at center for the Friars but only played six minutes.
Onuaku totaled 14 rebounds (seven offensive) while playing 39 minutes for the Orange.
‘I thought we did a great job on the boards,’ Boeheim said. ‘We’re a little bigger; we’ve got to do a good job on the boards.’
No love for the Dome
A lot was made before the game about the ‘homecoming’ for Providence forward Geoff McDermott, who played the final high-school game of his football career at the Carrier Dome in the Class AA state championship in 2004.
But after Sunday – his first appearance back in Syracuse since that game – McDermott will definitely not have any warm feelings for the Dome.
Providence’s fourth-leading scorer – and arguably most valuable player – took a goose egg Sunday night, failing to score a point in 37 minutes for the Friars. He did grab 14 rebounds and added six assists, but the last two experiences in the Carrier Dome for McDermott could not have left a good taste in his mouth.
Three years ago, it was an interception thrown by McDermott, who played quarterback for New Rochelle (N.Y.) High School, in the last seconds of the fourth quarter that ended the game.
This and that
Former Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara was in attendance and was in the locker room after the game. McNamara was serenaded by rousing cheers by the Carrier Dome crowd when he appeared on the JumboTron in the second half. … SU tennis coach Luke Jensen was also in attendance. Jensen just arrived back from Australia after covering the Australian Open for ESPN.
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