We have a great stable of Big East blogs here on SBN. The flagship in my opinion is the Syracuse site Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician hosted by the impeccable Sean Keeley. In this edition of Bulls Recon, we talk Fab Melo, Scoop Jardine, and of course Big East Expansion.
1. How much did the win at UConn mean to the team?
It was a ha-yuge win for the team and the fanbase. We avoided the first five-game losing streak in Boeheim's tenure but, more importantly, we proved that its not quite the self-destruct situation we feared. We saw this team start to get it together in the second half of the Marquette game so it was validating to see the team was truly turning a corner defensively.
Not to mention that we just beat UConn on the road for the first time since 1999. That's pretty good.
2. Fab Melo received a lot of hype coming into the season. How has he done this year under Coach Boehim?
Oof. It's been a rough year for Fab. Early on he had that calf muscle injury to fall back on but the simple truth is that he's much more of a project than we thought. He just doesn't have the stamina or the weight yet to push folks around for 40 minutes in the Big East. I know there was a lot made of him being a one-and-done guy before this season but it's pretty clear right now he's a 3-4 year guy for sure.
The surprise is that another freshman Baye Moussa Keita has actually surpassed Fab in terms of production. Keita won't score a lot of points but he's a huge electricity guy. He grabs rebounds, makes steals, blocks shots and he infects the team with his strong play. He probably deserves to start over Melo.
3. Who are some other newcomers that we should keep an eye on Saturday?
I mentioned Keita, who is really coming out of his shell. Dion Waiters is going to have get some playing time off the bench at the guard spot. He's a little bit like his cousin, Scoop Jardine, in that he likes to think of himself as "the guy" when there's no reason to think that. But he's coming along. He may just take over for his cousin next year in the starting lineup.
C.J. Fair will come off the bench to provide a shooting spark. He's taken over James Southerland's role as the 10-15 minute guy who can hit some shots and settle down on defense. We're very excited about Baye, Dion and C.J. and we're hopeful about Fab.
4. Scoop Jardine has been the focus of ire for Cuse fans this season. Do you think its warranted?
Unfortunately yes, it is warranted. Scoop is another guy who seems to think he's option No. 1 for the Orange even though at any given moment he's probably the 3rd or 4th best option on the floor. We need Scoop to focus on creating offense for Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson and everyone else instead of trying to force the issue himself.
Scoop might be a 4th year-junior but he plays like a freshman sometimes and it's infuriating. For every good thing he does on the floor, he'll do something inane just moments later. And he doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes, which is the most frustrating aspect. We've gotten to the point where Syracuse fans say, "Nooo!" to themselves whenever Scoop lines up to take a shot. That's not good.
All that said it's not like he a bad player. He just makes a lot of bad decisions.
5. Syracuse has been known to come out of the gates a little slow in Tampa? Any other reason than the fact that its 75 degrees down here right now?
That's kinda our thing these days. We refuse to get off to a good start against anyone. It's as if we're against the whole idea. If we're not working our way out of fifteen-point hole, it's just not worth doing.
There's also the fact that, as ESPN likes to remind us, Tampa is basically Syracuse South. When we played Florida here last year it was a neutral game despite the fact that we're Syracuse and they're Florida. So since we'll be playing in front of a "home" crowd and that means we don't really ned to get too pumped up.
In other words, enjoy your 17-5 headstart.
6. What are your thoughts on Big East expansion? Would you rather see us add another team or two, or do you think we should stop at 9? #BootDePaul?
I'd like to see the Big East add one more football program and if that means we add one more basketball team, well, what's the difference at this point? As the least of the BCS conference, being a conference of single-digits just makes us look even more Mickey Mouse. We need to keep up and we need to bring in more talent. I'm all for bringing in UCF, who can compete right away compared to a Villanova.
Should we boot DePaul? Absolutely. I don't care how good they're going to be in 3-4 years. They're dead weight and they don't really do anything for us. As far as the Chicago market, having Notre Dame gets us far more coverage there than DePaul ever will. I just don't see the point.
7. Finally, how much will Syracuse beat us by?
Like I said, you guys will jump out to a big lead, we'll battle our way back into it, have a way-too-small halftime lead, fall behind in the early and finally pull away with fifteen minutes left. Syracuse 69 - USF 59. That's my theory.
Thanks to Sean for taking part of this Q&A. You can read my answers to his questions over here. If for some reason you don't already, follow TNIAAM on Twitter here.