Wednesday will go down as the night Fab Melo finally arrived.
The 7-footer’s been in Syracuse the last two years, but his performance during a 75-49 win against Seton Hall was what Orange fans, prep scouts and even Melo had been expecting since he stepped foot on campus as a 5-star recruit.
How many guys record their first double-double with points and blocks? (That’s semi rhetorical. If you have an answer, leave it in the comments section.)
Melo scored a career-high 12 points, blocked a school record 10 shots and just missed out on a triple-double with seven blocks. Not too bad. Even Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard came away impressed.
“The staff deserves an unbelievable amount of credit and I think Fab deserves an unbelievable amount of credit for transforming his body,” Willard said. “That kid is a pleasure to watch.”
But wait, there’s more. From Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard:
“They kept coming right at him and he was there,’’ Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of Melo’s record-breaking effort. “He only played 25 minutes, too. He had a great defensive game.’’
Syracuse improved to 14-0 for the season, while Seton Hall fell to 11-2.
Melo thoroughly out-played his Seton Hall counterpart. Pope, a 6-8 senior came into the game averaging 20.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. His four points marked a season low. He did haul in nine rebounds, but he turned the ball over six times.
“Herb Pope is arguably the best big man in the league,’’ SU senior guard Scoop Jardine said. “He’s averaging 20 and 11. They thought that Herb was going to beat Fab up down there. They kept giving him the ball. Fab held his own.’’
If you ask Melo, this was a long time coming.
Melo weighed 275 pounds as a freshman. He started occasionally, but didn’t log many minutes, spending more time in coach Jim Boeheim’s dog house than he did on the court. So he spent the summer getting into shape.
Now he’s 30 pounds lighter and part of Syracuse’s deep, intimidating frontline of Kris Joseph (though he often plays on the wing), James Southerland, Rakeem Christmas. He says more big nights are on the way.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Melo said. “I’ve put a lot of work in. I’m still working hard to get better and I’m sure you’ll see better things from me. You’re going to be more surprised.”
Sounds like bad news for Providence. And the rest of the Big East.
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