From syracuse.com's article about Melo yesterday:
Midway through the second half of Saturday’s game against Louisville, Syracuse center Fab Melo started tugging at his jersey.
It was the universal sign for a player to signal that he needs a rest and wants to come out of the game.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim didn’t see Melo’s signal or chose to ignore it.
“I don’t think he saw me,’’ Melo said. Only a few minutes later did Boeheim send reserve center Baye Keita in to relieve Melo.
This article, coupled with the fact that Rak played fewer seconds than Matt Tomaczewski yesterday, made me start to wonder if we may have a problem at Center. Of course it's obligatory these days that Christmas starts but gets the yank as early as possible. Yes, we have depth to compensate, but we all know what a different team we are with Melo, and JB's recent usage of Rak and Keita make me wonder if he forgot what happened in 2010 when Arinze went down. Should the unthinkable happen again, are we prepared for it? I think we may be better so this year, but you certainly can't have forgotten the performances by SU with Melo out of the lineup for 3 games earlier this season.
I looked at Rak and Baye stats since Melo returned, and it's uglier than you may have thought:
Christmas: 4.13mpg, 0.5ppg, 1.125rpg, 0.25bpg - he has not scored since 2/4 and only has 2 rebounds and 1 assist since the SJU game (7 contests)
Keita 7.75mpg, 1ppg, 1rpg, 0.38bpg - he has not scored since 2/13 (4 games ago)
Keita is doing a fair enough job only while Melo gets a breather, but he cannot replace him. His stats while Melo was out: 21mpg, 2ppg, 2.3rpg, and 1bpg (3 in one game). Christmas' stats were up for those 3 games (how could they not be?) but very similar to Keita's: 18mpg, 2ppg, 4.67rpg, 1.67bpg. Simply put, the two of them together account for slightly more than half of what Melo is capable of.
Now for the article I linked. Did JB really not see Melo or did he choose to ignore it? Melo's conditioning improvement this year goes without saying, but every big needs a rest now and then. Does JB know Rak and Keita are so independable at this point he would rather tire out his big guy? Am I overanalyzing because the game was pretty much in hand and JB knew he had 5 days before his next contest? Perhaps it's both. Take a look at how Melo has been used before and after his academic absence:
Prior to absence 22.6mpg, 7.15ppg, 5.65rpg, 3bpg
After returning 30.75mpg, 9.13ppg, 6rpg, 3.38pg
He is being ridden for 8+ minutes more, but his (statistical) defensive contributions are not proportionally increased with this increase in time. I am not questioning the man who will soon be #2 on the all time wins list, but does anyone have a logical explanation for why Rak has TOTALLED 17 minutes in the past 7 outings, when after he showed such promise in the Cinci contest, and this being a time when we need as many big bodies to gain some experience as possible?
I'm just concerned that JB is "settling" into the typical 6-7 man rotation, and should anything happen to ANY of our guys, what is his gameplan? I would have liked to see Rak gain more playing time to prepare for the NCAAT. Time will tell if that even matters.