Strength and health: Syracuse’s returning forwards to begin offseason regimen

first_img Published on March 29, 2019 at 4:45 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 SALT LAKE CITY — Before they packed their bags and walked out of the locker room for the final time this season, Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj gave a peek into their offseason plans. Each completed the first two years, or half, of their respective college careers. Following Syracuse’s season-ending loss to Baylor, they reflected on what has been, as they characterized it, an underwhelming first two seasons at Syracuse.Starting this week, they’ll launch offseason training regimens. They understand senior center Paschal Chukwu, who averaged 20.1 minutes per game, will graduate. Both Sidibe and Dolezaj want to start. They realize Oshae Brissett and Elijah Hughes may return as starting forwards, leaving one open starting position in the frontcourt. Regardless, they acknowledged after the Orange’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss on March 21 that the frontcourt was SU’s most glaring weakness over the past two seasons — and it’ll again be the most unproven unit this fall. “We’re going to be juniors now,” Sidibe said. “We’re going to need to be better, and we’re going to need to help the younger guys. For us, this can’t continue to be a once-per-week thing. We need to go hard every game.”For Sidibe, the past two years were masked by injuries. Specifically, a nagging tendinitis in his knee that didn’t seem to go away. Tendonitis is a condition in which the tissue connecting muscle to bone becomes inflamed, according to WebMD. It set him back last season, and he underwent knee surgery after his freshman campaign. He played sparingly this season, averaging 10.1 minutes and 1.9 points per game. When he arrived in the fall of 2017, SU head coach Jim Boeheim predicted Sidibe would split the minutes at center with Chukwu. Instead, Sidibe said, he didn’t feel near full-strength at any point this season. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSidibe, who is 6-foot-10, said he will continue to work with Brad Pike, the team trainer, and Ryan Cabiles, the director of strength and conditioning. His goal is to get fully healthy. He said he’s “still hurting,” with aches in his knees. He needs time. He’ll play basketball a few times a week in the next couple of months, but his primary focus is rest and recovery. “I really don’t see a lot of progress in myself,” Sidibe said last week. “It is what it is. I have to keep my head up, keep working every day. Sometimes, it’s frustrating when you’re not playing, but you can’t argue with coach’s decisions. I have to focus on any opportunity I go in and try my best. I’m not satisfied, but I have to move on. I can’t go back.”Another tall, lean forward who plans to return next season is Dolezaj. He averaged 27.9 minutes per game as a starter for SU’s Sweet 16 team. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-10 Dolezaj averaged 21.7 minutes per game. His scoring dipped from 5.8 in 2017-18 to 4.1 points per game a year later. This summer, Dolezaj said he plans to get stronger and refine his shot. He weighs 180 pounds and wants to add a few pounds, with some lean muscle. An Eastern Conference scout said he could play professionally overseas somewhere, but his build may give him trouble inside the paint. “He’s skinny, and he can’t put on too much more weight,” the scout said. “He is active on the glass, but I don’t see him as a pro (NBA).”But Dolezaj has shown he can be an impact player at the college level. He knows it, too. He said he feels most comfortable in the high-post area, where he can shoot or pass. Hesitancy made him easier to guard, and he said the coaching staff urged him throughout the season to take more shots. “I was pretty good last year,” Dolezaj said. “This year, I struggled most of the season. I need to be more confident, shoot the ball more … If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to be more confident, do more of my part. Take my shot. Be strong. I feel like when I shoot, guys are driving more, and I can drive more.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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