Welcome back to another edition of Bulls Recon! Today, Sean Keeley from our great Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician stops by to talk Syracuse hoops. In this edition of Bulls Recon, we talk Fab Melo, where to grab a bite to eat in Syracuse, and of course
Big East ACC expansion.
1. So the Orange haven't been too bad on the court. How are you enjoying this season?
We're Syracuse fans so we have to find something to complain about. We've spent most of this fabulous season complaining that others don't think we're as fabulous as we think we are. Or were, at least. And now that the team doesn't look quite as perfect as they did last month, we're complaining about that. It's the Upstate New York winters, they make you this way.
Seriously, it's been an amazing season. We expected the team to do well. We did not expect 26-1. And we certainly did not expect to say "Fab Melo is the most important player on this team" at any point this year.
We all know that this team needs to perform in the post-season and ultimately that's how they'll be judged. But it's been a great year so far.
2. Fab Melo looks like a completely different player than last year. What did he do over the offseason to improve his game?
Every year there's one Syracuse player who seems to have gone through "long-term girlfriend breakup syndrome." You know, like they broke up with their girlfriend of four years during the summer and suddenly realized they had to start trying again in order to get a new one. So they wiped the crust out of their eyes, stopped eating garbage, hit the gym, bulked up, got quicker and all of a sudden they show up for the first day of practice and no one recognizes them. Two years ago it was Scoop Jardine, last year it was Rick Jackson and this year it's Fab Melo.
Looking back, he was fairly overweight and out of shape last year and he's really done a lot to change that while also working on his game. I don't remember seeing this defensive ability last year and I certainly don't remember seeing a jump shot. Now that he's got both, it's a different guy. And he really changes the entire team out there, especially on defense.
3. I need some hope for the game. What is the one weakness Syracuse has that the Bulls can take advantage of?
Clearly, we continue to have issues in the paint. If you guys can out-hustle us for rebounds, put-backs and second shots, then that's where you can even things up. (Ed note: YAIS) I can't tell you how often I watch SU players just watching shots instead of attacking the boards. And then, if Fab or C.J. Fair can't get to it, no one can. Baye Moussa Keita covers his hands in oil before the game so he can't hold on to anything and Rak Christmas is still developing. Beat us in the paint and you've got a shot.
Also, slow the game down to a crawl. We thrive offensively in transition. Take that away from us and our set offense leaves something to be desired. (Ed note: YAIS x2)
4. Seriously whats the deal with the grey uniforms? Was Boeheim away for the day and some PR lackey decided it was a great idea to wear the color of your biggest rival?
Sigh. Such is what happened when you sell your soul to Nike. The truth is, the recruits and players LOVE the uniform and don't have the same stigma about wearing gray as a 20-year Syracuse fan. It's interesting that we're wearing them against you guys because you're an Under Armour school and I don't know if you noticed but almost every opponent of a team in the Platinum uniforms has been an Under Armour or Adidas school. In other words, it's a FU from Nike and we're just the messenger.
It's only one game. I can live with that.
5. Where do you go to get a bite to eat or a few drinks before the game?
Well, if you're asking me what is the one place in Syracuse that you have to eat at, it has to be Dinosaur BBQ. I know, BBQ in Upstate NY doesn't sound all that exciting but trust me on that.
If you're staying in the campus area, you've got a couple options on the hill. Marshall Street and its side streets make up the main drag. The best bar hands down is Faegan's, you'll get solid pub food and a great beer selection. If you're in the mood for pizza, The Varsity is the old-school "beer and a slice" place. If you need something to line your stomach with at 2am when you're leaving the bars, I suggest Pita Pit. It's on the healthy side but you'll thank yourself in the morning.
There's a few other bars around but it's a different scene from when I was there. Proceed with caution. If you want to find a spot that's a little more relaxed and away from the Cuse crowd, you can always head for the bar in the Sheraton right off campus.
6. How do you feel about being placed in the Atlantic Division when you officially leave for the ACC in a couple of years? Any games you'd like to see played from your soon to be ex-conference mates?
While I think it's silly that they just don't go North/South, of the two divisions the Atlantic was the best choice. We know we'll see Boston College every year and they'll become our new in-conference rival. We'll get to see Maryland every year, which I think will become a solid rivalry. And we still get Pitt every year as well, keeping that rivalry going. Yeah we get FSU every year now, which sucks, but it's not like the other division is much easier.
Would I like to see us continue playing Big East schools? Sure, I think for recruiting purposes it still makes sense to play a lot of the Big East teams and I imagine we will. The big question is whether or not UConn and Rutgers eventually join the ACC, and that opens up a whole other can of worms for you guys.
7. Finally, how much does Syracuse beat USF by tonight?
I'm not gonna fall into that little trap. For three weeks now I've been watching Syracuse gnaw, tear, gnash and fight their way through every Big East game, regardless of who it is. We stopped overlooking opponents a long time ago. Even though we do win most of the time, it's rarely easy these days. I think Syracuse will win the game but I think it will be pretty close early on with the Orange slowly pulling away to win by 8-9. And even then I don't really believe that.
Like I said, Syracuse fans...we'll complain about anything.