Marek Dolezaj exploits size mismatches in Syracuse’s win over Boston College

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Every game Marek Dolezaj plays extended minutes at center for Syracuse, SU head coach Jim Boeheim comments on it afterwards. Boeheim has said it’s not something the Orange can keep doing. Dolezaj is not big enough to play huge minutes against the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top centers.“It’s tough for Marek to play center,” Boeheim said Saturday. “He does a great job, he fights in there. It’s not gonna work, not in this league, just not gonna work. We gotta have the bigger guys do something, bottom line.”But again, Dolezaj proved effective in the paint despite his size disadvantage as Syracuse (17-7, 8-3 ACC) beat Boston College (11-11, 2-8), 67-56, on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. Dolezaj finished with seven points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists, two blocks and a charge drawn in 28 minutes. Checking in at 6-foot-10 but only 180 pounds, Dolezaj is lighter than every center he matches up against when he checks in to play the 5. But he’s also been at his most effective when he gets extended minutes..“Marek’s the type of guy to use his mental ability over his physical ability,” SU sophomore Oshae Brissett said. “He knows how to play the game better than anyone I’ve seen.”For the Orange to compete against the four ranked teams left on their schedule, 7-foot-2 Paschal Chukwu or 6-foot-10 Bourama Sidibe might need to step up. But Dolezaj isn’t concerned with that, he said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen SU hosted Clemson, Dolezaj drew a charge on the opening play of the game, absorbing contact from 245-pound center Elijah Thomas. The Slovakian sophomore racked up five steals when matched up mostly with 243-pound center James Banks III of Georgia Tech. He used both those skills against BC.Matched up frequently with 6-foot-11, 253 pound Nik Popovic, Dolezaj anticipated entry passes before tipping them away. His four steals all came in similar fashion. It’s the way Dolezaj has operated inside. He’s not letting the opposition benefit from the size disparity.“The big guy gets the ball, there’s really not a lot, what I can do,” Dolezaj said. “He’s 220, 240, I’m 180. There’s really nothing to do. If he doesn’t get it, that’s good for me.”The tipped passes helped spark a 13-2 run in the second half for the Orange, as Dolezaj’s deflections lead to run outs for SU’s guards. When a player catches near the foul line or the baseline, Dolezaj hasn’t always been in trouble, either. Saturday, 220-pound Steffon Mitchell caught at the elbow and looked to get to the rim, but Dolezaj slid in front and drew a charge without even falling.His anticipation showed as a rim protector as well, with Dolezaj blocking Luka Kraljevic twice in a possession during the second half. The BC Slovenian tried to pump fake the SU Slovakian, but Dolezaj didn’t fall for it and timed his jumps right twice. “We all have supreme trust in him to protect him in the middle of the paint,” Brissett said of Dolezaj.Dolezaj also continued to provide an offensive dimension that SU’s more traditional centers don’t bring. On one play, he drove and kicked to Buddy Boeheim for a 3. On the next trip down the floor, Buddy returned the favor with a drive and kick to a Dolezaj 3. Neither Chukwu or Sidibe even consider making either of those plays.And Dolezaj’s highest-success rate play, the catch at the left elbow, caught BC napping. He directed Elijah Hughes to the left corner while SU came down the floor, then proceeded to catch the entry and dish to Hughes for a layup.Down the stretch, with BC mounting a comeback, Dolezaj attempted an over-the-top pass to Brissett and had it picked off. Boeheim flung his jacket over the Syracuse bench. But the stops Dolezaj made as an undersized center earlier on Saturday meant that the Boeheim jacket toss was inconsequential. “I’m just proving I can play basketball,” Dolezaj said. “And I’m just trying to get as many minutes as possible, what I can get. It’s all about if you’re on the court, not on the bench. And I just want to play, be on the court and help the team.” Published on February 9, 2019 at 5:53 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3center_img Commentslast_img

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