Syracuse 79 - CSU-LA 49: The Fab Melo Experience

Remember Freshman Fab Melo? He was a bit of a bummer. He paled in compared to his expectations. He seemed at times to be five steps behind. And rumors about his off-the-court temper seemed to be confirmed in an off-season incident that threatened his basketball career and beyond.

Our hope was that he would take everything that happened last year and harness it into the upcoming Syracuse Orange basketball season. It still remains to be seen how Fab will match up against D-1 and Big East competition, but the exhibition game against CSU-LA was a showcase for the potential that we've all expected and been hoping for.

Fab led the Orange with 14 points and 9 rebounds in SU's 79-49 victory over the Golden Eagles.

The biggest difference seems to be Melo's conditioning and it was evident on a late goal-tending play that Fab had to hustle to make happen.

"No. No way. I couldn’t get there,’’ he said. "It’s a great thing. I knew I would get a goal-tend, but I just wanted to try.’’

To quote Lou Brown, "Nice catch...don't ever f***** do it again."

The accolades were pouring in from Fab's teammates:

"He looks great; he’s jumping and trying to dunk everything. That’s what we need from him – we need him to be a force. We’re not asking him to be Rick Jackson, but we need him to be a force. We’ve got a lot of guys that can play this year, and Fab’s one of those guys." - Scoop Jardine

"Before he didn't have no abs, now he's got like a six-pack" - Brandon Triche

"I think he’s just in better condition. He’s more ready and he’s understanding more of what it is about. I think he’s in better shape and better able to get up and down. He’s always had good skills. He’s just got to get up and down better and I think he’s doing that. He’s very active, going after balls and there are a lot of positives from both him and Baye." - Jim Boeheim

Melo had two blocks, and so did Baye Moussa Keita, who sees strong defense as the key to SU's frontcourt.

"I feel like we have to send a message early for them to have that mentality that if they go in there we are going to block the shot," Keita said. "Our goal isn't to block every shot but to change every shot they take."

Kris Joseph had 11 points in 24 minutes of action. He also continues to nurse a sore knee.

The only surprise of the day seemed to be the news that Rakeem Christmas was starting over C.J. Fair. That said, given Boeheim's interest in having a great sixth man, it's not too shocking. Christmas said he was "a little bit nervous" to start the game, but finished with five points, six rebounds and three blocks. Not too shabby. 

Scoop started the night as a scorer (9 first-half points), but spent the rest of the game as a distributor, finishing with seven assists. He had two turnovers on the night, as well.

The Legend of Trevor Cooney might have to wait a little while. The freshman did score, but Boeheim failed to mention him by name when discussing the freshmen potential for the team. He did, however, mention that MCW and Rakeem Christmas could see some time on the court. Cooney said that redshirting had not been discussed yet, but..you never know.

Syracuse basketball head Jim Boeheim thoughts on how his team played in their first exhibition game this season against Cal State-Los Angeles at the Carrier Dome (Dennis Nett).


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