1. Syracuse misses Melo... badly.
Coming into this year, no one would have thought that losing sophmore center Fab Melo would make Syracuse go from great to just really good. But, it has. Without the seven-foot Brazilian guarding the paint and anchoring the defense, the Orange have no girth inside. In the last three games, teams have exploited the mouth of the Syracuse defense. Against West Virginia, behemoth center Deniz Kilicli only shot 2-for-10 from the field. On paper, it looks like the duo of Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmas did a solid job and that they’re learning after struggling against Jack Cooley and Yancy Gates. However, the poor shooting performance was as much a result of Kilicli missing bunnies as it did Keita and Christmas affecting his shots. In the three games of the Fab-less era, the Orange have been out-rebounded by an average of almost 11 boards per game. It goes without saying, but the Orange are just not as effective, especially on defense, without Fab Melo.
2. Syracuse misses Dion, too.
Like Melo, Dion Waiters has been quiet the past three games. However, unlike Melo, the super-sub can’t blame his ineffectiveness on sitting out. In the three previous contests, the sophomore guard has shot 7-for-28, an alarmingly awful 25 percent. Against WVU, both of his field goals were dunks and he was 0-for-3 from deep. Apparently, the issue isn’t his self-assurance. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said, “He’s got more confidence than this room has, but he needs to make some shots.”
3. Boeheim is tightening the rotation, as he said he would
With the loss of Melo, the rotation went from ten to 9. Thanks to the inconsistent and lackluster defensive play of freshman guard Michael Carter-Williams, the nine has become eight. Boeheim hinted towards a potential tightening of the rotation earlier in the season and after the Villanova game. But it doesn’t seem to be an issue. Players are playing more minutes and are able to maintain a high level of effort and intensity. Boeheim doesn’t seem bothered by the new rotation. Considering Carter-Williams has only played four minutes in the past four games, it appears Boeheim will keep his bench shortened, at least for the near future.
News, notes, and game coverage for Syracuse sports.