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Syracuse Basketball Media Day: Great Expectations

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Before the madness Friday, the Syracuse Orange basketball team gathered for their media day where expectations were high, hope was in the air and we got our first look at what this 22-man roster (including walk-ons) looks like on the floor.

The big thing one first notices about the 2011-2012 Orange is, well, how big the lineup is.This isn't a one-man show, nor is it even a two- or three-man show. This team is about as deep as any we've seen in a long time.

"I think this year we probably have the opportunity to have the most depth that we've ever had," Boeheim said at media day.

Boeheim's not the only one who notices it, the team's theoretical star, Kris Joseph, sees it too.

"Last year, the ball was pretty well-spread, points per game were really even. It’s going to be the same, with so many guys that can score. I can do it, Scoop can do it, Brandon can do it."

As for Joseph, Boeheim likes what he's seen so far, but knows there's a lot more to come:

"I think he had a good year last year,’’ Boeheim said. "I think he can play better.’’

Boeheim also threw out one of his cryptic "try not to read into this, but you you know you're going to" retirement teases:

"It’s good to see everybody again,’’ Boeheim said as he took to the podium. "You never know when it’s going to be the last time so I just can’t tell you how much I look forward to this. If it was the last time, I’d really be happy, I guess.’’

If you're looking for this year's winner of the Off-Season Slimdown & Bulk-Up, it's apparently a tie between Dion Waiters and Fab Melo.

Dion seems to have taken the lead from cousin Scoop Jardine and gone healthy in the name of being a better athlete:

"I worked hard,’’ Waiters said. "Going three times a day to the gym; sometimes four. Extra motivated. This is a big year for us. We could definitely do it. We’ve got a great group of guys and great leaders.’’

"My body’s good,’’ he said. "I’m faster. I jump higher. I’m eating right.’’

As for Fab, Mike Waters says Melo has lost a ton of weight and looks a lot more limber in the zone. Perhaps, he's motivated by the off-season troubles as well as the "bust" label so many have been quick to pin him with.

"For all the expectations that people had about me, I thought it would be easier," Melo said. "I thought I would just go there and play and I would average 20 points a game, something like that. And when I get to the season, I realized it’s not like that. I know I had to learn a lot to play the game."

Jeff Borzello took in Media Day and Midnight Madness first-hand and he thinks C.J. Fair is primed to make The Leap this year.

"The guy who got better is C.J. Fair," guard Brandon Triche said earlier in the week. "He’s a guy who was more of a mid-range guy around the basket. Now, he’s knocking the three down consistently, off the dribble, off the catch. I see a lot of different things from him."

Baye Moussa Keita looks healthy and the longer that can keep up, the better.

Waters likes what he sees from the freshman trio...

Rakeem Christmas is big and athletic. He worked out exclusively with the forwards. Trevor Cooney and Michael Carter-Williams look like SU's backcourt of the not-so-distant future. They've got size and skills. Cooney is a terrific shooter whose more athletic than he looks.

Carter-Williams looks like a budding superstar. He's got ball skills. He's a good defender who uses his enormous wing-span to cut off passing lanes. And he can shoot, too.

Syracuse University men's basketball team held its first practice of the season in the Melo Center via

A first look at the 2011-12 Syracuse University Orange men's basketball team, along with head coach Jim Boeheim's take on the upcoming season, during SU Media Day at the Carmelo Anthony Center via