Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Riley Set To Return, Make A Difference

It was October of last year. DaShonte Riley, a center on the SU basketball team, was looking forward to fighting for a starting spot in the frontcourt for the Orange. He only averaged 1.4 points and 1.5 rebounds per game as a freshman, but there was no doubt that his size and skill could help in the paint. Then it happened. Riley suffered a foot injury in fall practice that required surgery and in effect, he missed the 2010-2011 season.

Since the surgery, Riley has been working hard to return to the court as strong as ever. He has been working with Ryan Cabiles, the strength coach, and Brad Pike, the head trainer, to build strength and get back into game shape.

Most of the exercises have been focused on his lower body. Riley is “getting certain things stronger so it relieves stress on my foot,” he said.

Missing this past season, though, was tough for the seven-foot, Detroit native. However, the most difficult aspect of sitting out this year is not what one would think. Riley wasn’t worried about his individual game or reputation, but he was worried about his team, especially senior Rick Jackson.

Riley described the most difficult part of sitting out as “not being able to help Rick out in his senior year.”

However, the experience wasn’t all bad. Through watching the games on the sidelines, Riley realized that “the game is a learning experience and in this past season, I took an outside approach, more of a student’s role.”

Also, since he couldn’t practice, Riley was able to devote his time to different areas, such as lifting. “I feel stronger since I spent more time in the weight room which was one of the biggest areas of improvement for me,” he said.

Riley was just recently given the go-ahead to start engaging in physical activity again. Although his right foot is not completely back at 100%, Riley told me it’s “in the high 90%.”

By the start of next season, Riley should be back to 100% and better than ever. With the graduation of Rick Jackson, the Orange have an unexperienced frontline. However, the return of Riley could provide a big boost. He fills the paint with his seven-foot frame, but is also skilled enough to score in the post and defend without fouling.

With Riley’s new approach to the game, stronger frame and healed ankle, he could prove to be an x-factor for the Orange next season. Syracuse fans, get excited - DaShonte Riley is back.

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