As Syracuse Orange fans prepare to root on their No. 3-ranked squad Monday, there's a lingering question that many SU faithful may not want answered. That question is: "Will freshman center Fab Melo find the physical gumption needed to play against No. 5/4 Pittsburgh Panthers in Monday night's prime-time, Big East Conference match up; or is he going to foul out in the games first six seconds?"
As much as Saturday's six-point, four-block, second-half performance against the Cincinnati Bearcats, who lost 76-59, was great to watch and root for; it may have created a false hope that believes Melo has figured out how to play in the Big East Conference. Not so fast, my optimistic friends.
|2010 - Fab Melo||17||11.0||0.8||1.6||51.9||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.4||1.1||36.8||0.7||1.1||1.8||0.3||0.6||0.4||0.8||1.8||2.1|
Look, I think Melo is going to be a quality Big East center but he isn't right now. Not by a long shot. Melo has a long, long way to go before he can play with inside guys like Pittsburgh's senior Gary McGhee, who has started 52 consecutive games at center and is coming off a solid 13-point, 10-rebound game against the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday.
|2010 - Gary McGhee||17||20.8||2.8||4.8||57.3||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.4||2.9||46.0||2.5||4.8||7.3||0.2||0.8||0.3||1.5||1.5||6.9|
Now, Syracuse is lucky to have a forward like senior Rick Jackson who plays most of the time at center -- it's usually after Melo commits his third foul about three minutes into the game. Jackson has been amazing this season -- currently, he leads the conference in field goal percentage (.589) and defensive rebounding (8.1) -- but there's going to be a game where No. 00 gets into foul trouble and Melo's going to need to step up.
I have a feeling that tonight, against probably the most physical Big East squad there is, Jackson is going to find himself with a decent amount of fouls. Will Melo be good enough to help out? I guess, SU fans are about to find out.