... (sigh) ... I can't deal with this Fab Melo news ... I need to vent! I'm so distracted right now thinking about all of the ups and downs this team has gone through this season ... the pre-season hype // the Fine scandal // the Undefeated Streak // The original Melo suspension // how we really have seen both the absolute best (and worst) of each player at one point or another this year // how loose the team has looked all year ... (despite the awful Cincinnati game) …
While this is the deepest team Jim's ever had, Melo has been our absolute anchor, both defensively and offensively ... The guy's had way more non-stats that have helped us win than his actual official stats (see: taking 4 charges a game while scaring opponents with his 7 foot wingspan and Michael Strahan smile) ... I’m not going to lie—it doesn’t look good for us, Cuse fans.
So for a brief moment we mourn for how we had originally pictured would be our return to the Big Easy. We pictured big plays (like the ones we’ve seen all year): shot blocks morphing into fast breaks, alley-oops from our guards to our Brazilian big man, and the prettiest free throw shooting from a 7 footer a national audience has ever seen. Surely you don’t think Fab himself is going to miss this more than any of us, do you? While I’d like to think so, he’s probably waist-deep in NBA scouts right now. To top it all off, now we’ll never see a NCAA matchup between Fab Melo & Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. L
Ok, so we’re in full-out panic mode. In the words of Lee Corso: NOT SO FAST MY FRIENDS. In these troubled times I suggest we begin identifying things that we can control from those which we cannot. Let’s list some positives, if you will:
No games have been played yet
Don’t jump! We haven’t lost! We’re still a #1 seed. While UNC Asheville is indeed a worthy opponent, we should be able to win with our bench support (or without it).
We still have a deep team.
We’ve heard it all year: Syracuse has the deepest team in the country. And I believe that we still do even without Melo. And now that tournament time’s here, we don’t have to worry about Jimmy benching players just to teach them a lesson. He’s here to win, just like the rest of everyone. Let’s just list our team for a sec: Kris Joseph. Scoop Jardine. Dion Waiters. CJ Fair. Brandon Triche. Michael Carter Williams. James Southerland. Rakeem Christmas. Baye Keita (gulp). 9 players. Boeheim’s has 10 players who have averaged over 10 mpg all Season. Does he stick with who he’s used to or surprise us with some Matt Tomaszewski / Nick Resavy / Brandon Reese looks. I doubt it. Still deep though! And did anyone just have that what-if moment where we won the championship without Mookie Jones? I know; I miss him too.
Did you notice that Kris Joseph hasn’t been playing very well lately? Maybe it’s because of his 102 fever that he was playing through during the Big East tournament. According to nunesmagician.com, Joseph is back at full strength while preparing for Thursday. We’re also lucky not to have any significant nagging injuries on the rest of our squad going into the tourney. Injuries aren’t good during March Madness, are they, Arinze?
We still got a good draw for our region. Pittsburgh? We’ve been there. Boston? Been there. New Orleans? Been there J
One of the most impressive characteristics I’ve found of any Jim Boeheim’s teams is their poise. (well, except for Eric Devendorf, maybe). We don’t get rattled too easy. Especially this year. We’ve been down in games. A lot. Sure we play sloppy basketball for the first 15 minutes, and then somehow we’re (almost) always focused and poised enough to control our emotions to get back the win. I’d like to attribute most of this to Boehiem’s coaching and demeanor on the sidelines, but the players are the ones who ultimately execute on this. This is a huge reason why we’re 31-2. This widely over-looked intangible is something that is crucial to success in the national tournament.
No one accurately predicts these things
Just remember, folks. Anything can happen. Just look at our season! Looks like almost everything already did happen! Sure seems like now the popular pick is to knock ‘Cuse out of your brackets early, at least according to most of the national media. The same media that accurately predicted Butler to square off against VCU last year, right? I’m just sayin’. Forget that we’re a #1 seed. We’re a crazy talented team that STILL HAS YET to realize our potential. Just you wait. Boeheim knows what he’s doing. As emotional as this year has been for us—the fans as well as the players, our team is still loose and poised. Call be blind, but I still have faith in a deep run. It’ll be fun to watch. Get ready for 3:10 Eastern Standard Time, because now it sounds like the Syracuse Orange are about to upset the UNC – Asheville Bulldogs. GO CUSE!!