Fab Melo, Stephen Pagliuca, Jared Sullinger

Why are we focused on Fab Melo’s academics?


It’s far from a secret for college basketball fans that Fab Melo had a tough time academically during his sophomore season at Syracuse.

In January, he was suspended for three games — including the Orange’s first loss of the season to Notre Dame — for an academic issue, one that reared its ugly head again in March, which is why Melo sat out the NCAA tournament.

And, as you might expect, the rookie has been hearing it from seemingly everyone in Boston. According to this report from ESPN Boston, Celtic GM Danny Ainge asked Melo if his business advisor Rodrigo was also his academic advisor. Head coach Doc Rivers said on ESPN Radio interview with Mike Lupica that “We have no tests” and that “we’re going to introduce you tomorrow and we’re going to do a Read to Achieve thing (with young students). Are you OK with that?”

Hilarious if you ask me.

I can’t wait to hear what Kevin Garnett has to say to Melo if he shows up late for practice or forget what he’s supposed to do on a specific play.

To his credit, Melo seems to be taking the ribbing in stride.

“It’s not a concern at all,” Melo said of his academic record. “I did what I had to do on the basketball court, my responsibilities, stuff like that. I did. I struggled with the school. And I don’t have to go to class now, so that’s something coach or the coaching staff won’t have to worry about.”

At this point, you have to hope that Melo’s career pans out. As Orange Fizz put it, “dumb and proud of it is no way to go through life.”

The irony here is that Melo’s academic record would be the second biggest concern I have about him as a prospect. No one seems particularly concerned about the fact that Melo had a “volatile relationship” with his girlfriend in college, one in which he was “physically violent four or five times” and resulted in his getting arrested. The episode seems quite disturbing:

About 9 a.m. on May 30, she and Melo got into an argument over a phone call she received from a male friend. Melo demanded she call back the male and tell him that she did not want to talk with him anymore because she was dating Melo.

She said she called and told the man she couldn’t hang out with him anymore. Melo became mad, she said, because she didn’t make it sound like she was voluntarily calling off the communication.

Later in the day, she told police it appeared that Melo had calmed down. About 1:40 p.m., in Melo’s apartment, he was showing her pictures using his MacBook computer. He asked her if he could see her Facebook wall. She said she agreed providing that Melo not get angry at what he reads.

Melo became angry after reading two comments from two different men on the Facebook wall, she said. Melo threw down his computer on the floor, damaging it. As soon as he realized he had damaged it, he began throwing it against the walls.

She went to the apartment’s bathroom and shut the door. She soon left the bathroom, grabbed her belongings and left the apartment. She was in her car when Melo came out of the apartment, picked up some dirt and threw it on her. Melo walked behind the car and demanded she open the trunk.

She refused.

Melo approached the driver’s side, reached in the window and snapped off the turn signal control arm, which also controlled the car’s wipers and high beams.

She noticed Melo was bleeding from the hand.

“Here, you want my blood,” she quoted Melo as saying as he smeared blood on her shirt.

But you’re right. Bad grades are a much bigger issue.


Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.

No. 24 Cincinnati beats George Washington 61-56

Troy Caupain
AP Photo
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NEW YORK (AP) Troy Caupain scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:38 to play, and No. 24 Cincinnati beat George Washington 61-56 on Saturday in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic.

The fact the game came down to a three-point play was ironic as both teams took 22 3-point attempts and there were times it seemed a 3-point shooting broke out.

Caupain’s traditional three-point play gave the Bearcats (7-0) a 55-54 lead. After a missed 3 by the Colonials (6-1) Octavius Ellis, who chosen the tournament MVP, scored on a tip-in. Patricio Garino scored on a drive for George Washington with 29 seconds left.

The Colonials let the Bearcats pass the ball around and they finally fouled when Ellis touched the ball with 14 seconds to play. Ellis, a 56 percent free throw shooter, clinched his MVP award by making both for a 59-56 lead. Two free throws by Caupain with 6.1 seconds left capped the scoring.

Farad Cobb and Kevin Johnson both had 11 points for the Bearcats while Ellis had nine points and seven rebounds.

Garino had 15 points for George Washington, Tyler Cavanaugh had 13 and Joe McDonald 11.

The Colonials finished 11 of 22 from 3-point range, not bad for a team that came in shooting 27.9 percent (29 of 104) from there. The 50 percent doesn’t look so good when you consider the Colonials made five of their first six 3-point attempts and were 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half. They went 16:42 between 2-point field goals but led 30-27 at halftime.

The Bearcats were 7 of 22 from 3-point range but their advantage came at the free throw line where they were 10 of 12 compared to George Washington’s 3 of 4.


George Washington: The Colonials beat Tennessee in the opening round and they were 3 of 15 on 3s. … George Washington was off to its best start since it was8-0 in 2005-06. … The Colonials finished 10 for 34 from 2-point range.

Cincinnati: The win gives the Bearcats a 13-1 all-time record against George Washington and this was their sixth straight. The last win came on Jan. 31, 1976. … Cincinnati is 7-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons. … The Bearcats are 51-8 in and have won 24 of 25 in November under coach Mick Cronin. They have won 49 straight games when scoring over 60 points. The 60th point against the Colonials came with 6.1 seconds to play.


George Washington hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Cincinnati hosts Butler on Wednesday.