|Fab Melo went from boy to man in Madison Square Garden|
It took 30 games for the light to go on for Syracuse freshman center Fab Melo and unfortunately for St. John's -- it was on in a huge way during Syracuse's 79-73 win over the Red Storm in the Big East tournament. In the post-game interview a happy Jim Boeheim said something very interesting -- he said that with the way his team was playing they had a chance to do something. It was followed by a smirk.
Now I study Jim Boeheim like Glen Beck studies Insanity for Dummies, so when the Hall of Famer says something like that, you believe it, because he's not genetically programmed to bullshit people. The irascible old ball coach can't help but speak the truth. If he believes it, he's going to tell you. Doesn't always make him right (like some of his dealings with the media) but when it comes to basketball, he's usually dead on the money.
In the summer of 2002 Boeheim was telling anyone who would listen that while Carmelo was coming, Gerry McNamara would also be something special. Before the 2009-10 season he was telling everyone how good Wes Johnson was. We know how those proclamations turned out.
So this past summer when Boeheim was very complimentary of Fab Melo, expectations rose. And when Fab didn't play up to par, it was curious. Had Boeheim lost his eye for talent? That was unlikely. What it meant was Melo's talent was there - it just wasn't showing. Well now it is and its once again proving the coach who has forgotten more about basketball than most of us will ever know, is once again on the money.
So a couple of weeks ago when he said SU's big men were getting better he wasn't blowing smoke up our butts, he was telling the truth. And when he says this team can "do something" it means, keep an eye out in March.
Tonight, the big men -- specifically Melo -- made the difference as Syracuse did what it couldn't do last year - win its first game in the Big East tournament coming off the dreaded double-bye.
The win was all about two players - Fab Melo and Brandon Triche. Melo shook off a poor season to score 12 huge points and grab 4 big rebounds and Triche shook off a poor first half to put up 15 second half points while doing a little bit of everything to carry his team to victory.
In a down year for college basketball, there's no reason why this Syracuse team can't do some real damage in the NCAA tournament. How much damage they do will largely be based on how well Brandon Triche and Fab Melo play. If they play like today, it could be a fun March.
Syracuse faces a UConn team playing its fourth game in four days Friday night in the Garden. It should be fun. In the meantime - here's more Fab: