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Syracuse Basketball Vs. Fordham: Trevor Cooney's Redshirt Status, Kris Joseph's Knee, Fab Melo's Defense

The Syracuse University men's basketball team opened its 2011-12 season with a 78-53 drubbing of Fordham University in a non-conference game at the Carrier Dome. Senior forward Kris Joseph netted a game-best 16 points, while sophomore guard Dion Waiters added 14 points off the bench.

I'd get into details, but for today I will not bother -- it's the first game of the season people! Instead, here's what you need to know from Syracuse's season-opening victory:

1) Freshman shooting guard Trevor Cooney did not pull off his warm ups. There has been speculation that because of SU's depth, Cooney will be redshirted.

  • Boeheim's response to Cooney's status: "We're close. We're close."

If I were to guess, with the help of Boeheim's tone to the answer, I think Cooney will be redshirted.

2) Entering the game, most fans were concerned about senior forward Kris Joseph's surgically repaired knee and its progression.

  • Boeheim: "He showed me a lot more movement tonight. I think, it's still a process. I think he will get back. Hopefully, pretty quick."

Joseph did net a team-best 16 points and collected five rebounds. However, I could see he still isn't 100-percent. My worry about Joseph is: Entering Big East Conference play, will he settle for more jumper to protect the knee? If he does, it could be an issue.

Boehiem noted that Joseph's game is to slash to the basket, which then sets up his outside shot.

3) Overall, Boeheim loved the way his players played defense. Especially, sophomores Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita.

  • "I thought out defense was good. I think Fordham is a pretty good basketball team. We didn't give them a lot of easy looks."
  • "Fab and Baye were very good in the middle defensively. Really good in there. Fordham is going to score a lot of points this year. And, our defense was really good." 

I'll agree with Boehiem that Melo looked a lot better defensively than he did last year. Boeheim noted that it's probably because Melo is basically still learning the game and is in better condition. However, what is really going to help Melo this season is SU's 2-3 zone.

Melo moves well, but still doesn't have the defensive footwork or toughness to play man-to-man. If Melo had to man up Fordham's best player, forward Chris Gatson (6-foot-7, 225-pounds), I think he would have gotten eaten alive. But, SU's zone defense works right into Melo's strengths: athletic ability and quickness.

The Syracuse basketball schedule features the Orange hosting Manhattan University, Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. If the Orange win, then it will play either Brown University or the University at Albany on Tuesday.

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