Marek Dolezaj’s versatility shining through for Syracuse

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Marek Dolezaj caught the ball at the left elbow and scanned the court. He was facing away from the basket and toward teammate Frank Howard who had just given him the ball.Dolezaj pivoted and looked right and left quickly, not seeing anything he liked. Texas Southern center Trayvon Reed stepped up to guard him. So, Syracuse’s freshman forward skipped a pass under Reed’s arm to Bourama Sidibe standing on the baseline. Sidibe went up and finished easily.“He’s just a smart player, man,” Howard said after the win over TSU. “His skill and his IQ is very high. He always makes the right passes from there.”Syracuse (3-0) has been fairly limited offensively, relying on Tyus Battle to create most of the team’s chances when things get stagnant. But SU has seemed to have found another option in Dolezaj, who has a seemingly intuitive ability to make the right pass and be at the right spot. He finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against TSU and figures to be a prominent part of SU’s next matchup against Oakland (2-1) on Monday night.For most of the game, TSU deployed a zone against the Orange, leaving pockets of space open near the free-throw line. SU looked to take advantage.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Todd Michalek | Staff Photographer When asked what the power forwards are supposed to do from the high post, redshirt freshman Matthew Moyer said, “Supposed to look for your shot first, and then dish down, see what you can do. Just be a threat.”Though Moyer has started all three of Syracuse’s games, Dolezaj has seemed to be the bigger threat. Dolezaj has played more at the power forward spot, finishing with a team-high 32 minutes in Saturday’s game.There’s a difference in style of play, too. Dolezaj said that he looks to pass, rather than shoot, when he gets the ball in the high post. He’s happy with the reads he’s made in the passing game and feels confident in his scoring in practice, he said. But that hasn’t yet translated into games.Even if his shots aren’t falling, he finds other ways to contribute – namely, in running down loose balls.On one possession in the first half against the Tigers, Dolezaj had the ball by the free-throw line and went up for a floater. He missed badly, but gathered his own rebound and immediately found Geno Thorpe on the right wing, who canned a 3-pointer.“He’s not a shot maker,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He missed a couple around the basket that he can make. But he made some plays out of the post that really helped us. Goes after the ball better than anyone on our team.” Todd Michalek | Staff Photographer There will be times when Dolezaj needs to be assertive and score the ball. On one play against TSU, he got the ball in the high post. Once again he scanned the court, holding onto the ball for a little too long. He eventually turned left and couldn’t even get his pass off as a TSU defender put his hand up and intercepted the ball.Still, Dolezaj’s instincts often result in him making the right read. On one play against TSU, the role was reversed, as Sidibe got the ball in the high post with Dolezaj on the 3-point corner. Seeing that, Dolezaj immediately cut inside and finished on a reverse layup.Dolezaj has also been the forward of choice when Syracuse goes with its three-guard, one-center lineup. His passing ability and mild threat of the shot help keep the ball moving.“It’s always good,” Howard said, “to have a guy you can put in the middle and make the right play.” Comments Published on November 19, 2017 at 7:38 pm Contact Tomer: | @tomer_langerlast_img read more