|Fab Melo morphed into Dikembe Mutombo against Seton Hall|
The story of the game was the dominance of sophomore center Feb Melo who set a Syracuse record with 10 blocks in the game. Fab also added 12 points and 7 rebounds to the effort.
While we shouldn't confuse Seton Hall with Kentucky or North Carolina, the performance was a dominating one, especially considering the fact that the Orange didn't even play particularly well on the offensive end of the floor. Leading scorer Kris Joseph put up a goose egg and this game was STILL over 5 minutes into the second half. It was one of the most stifling defensive performances I've seen Syracuse put together in quite some time.
Unlike last year's team, this version has the defensive intensity, height and length to simply shut teams down -- even when the offense isn't there. It has the added bonus of being so deep and athletic that opponents WANT to slow down the tempo. The result is that even when shots aren't falling, teams are not going to run away from SU because they aren't playing at a quick pace and struggle to score points quickly against the zone.
This team will lose this year, but I don't think there's a team in the country that can run away from them. This was one hell of a start to Big East play.
* Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard wins the Rob Murphy award for the shiniest head on the sideline of the Carrier Dome this season -- and Murphy brought his team in there. Well done Willard.
* Dion Waiters gives this team an element they didn't have last year -- a guy that doesn't need any help at all to get his own shot, and get a decent one.
* People watching at home wear audibly assaulted by color commentator LuBara Dixon Simpkins. Commonly known as Dickey he is one of the worst announcers working today. He's the anti-Raftery. Consider these nuggets the Dickmeiser dropped on the audience:
- "A dunk special with a side of facial" -- uttered after an uncontested Dion Waiters dunk.
- He stated someone was "Handing out movie tickets" -- he must have recently seen the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie and had that on his mind.
- He uttered the totally overused "block party" line -- which is not to be confused with Ronnie Mund Block Party.
- And he capped it off with this gem, "It must still be Christmas because Melo is getting presents from the guards" -- not for Dickey, not for us.
* To elaborate on that point just a bit - Scoop loves the game, loves to play and is always giving 100 percent effort -- however that enthusiasm sometimes gets him in trouble -- forcing shots and plays there aren't always there. This year when it happens, he'll sit and Dion and Brandon will play.
* In CJ Fair, James Southerland and Dion Waiters, this team has three guys who seem to actually enjoy taking mid-range jumpers. It's a lost art.
* While SU was much bigger than the Hall, I was impressed with the overall effort on the boards tonight. You can tell the coaches have been emphasizing it.
* The last 5 minutes of the first half and the first 5 minutes of the second half it was all Melo all the time. He was the Great Wall of Melo, and it was awesome.
* Let's turn to the Connecticut Post's Sean Patrick Bowley to describe the stretch accurately - via Twitter:
At Center: Fab Melo. Forward: Fab Melo. Swingman: Fab Melo: Guards: Fab Melo. Fab Melo. Head Coach: Fab Melo* Can we get an official height for Michael Carter Williams? I've heard announcers state he stands anywhere from 6'5" to 6'7".
* I really like the fact that Kris Joseph wasn't forcing things on the offensive end even though he didn't have it going tonight. He hustled, played defense, passed the ball and was still a leader.
* Mookie Jones got some run and every time he touched the ball fans went nuts wanting him to shoot. He did not. I am convinced this isn't a coincidence. Mookie's a smart guy, he's not going to turn himself into a circus act. Good for him. I don't care that he doesn't play much - I love that guy.
One Big East game down - a whole bunch to go - here's hoping they are all like that.