Fab Melo is on the wrong side of a losing argument.
When he missed a jumper early in the second half of Syracuse’s 80-61 win over Bucknell on Tuesday, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim immediately signaled for backup Baye Keita to come into the game.
“He still thinks he can make a jump shot, which we have a disagreement on,” Boeheim said. “We’re going to have to work through that. He’s not going to win that one.”
It’s one of the few things that Melo hasn’t won over Boeheim on, as the sophomore has improved every facet of his game.
Through 12 games this season, Melo has already scored more points than he did his entire freshman season. He’s nearly tripled his production across the line, and is averaging 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds as opposed to 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds his rookie year.
“He got in better condition so he’s gained some confidence,” Boeheim said. “He moves better. He has better post moves.”
That was all on display on Tuesday, as the center finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
“I try to dominate,” Melo said. “I improved a lot since last year. I worked a lot and now it is paying off.”
Last year, Melo suffered a leg injury in the early part of the season, and was limited in practice. When the season started, Melo was out of shape, and playing catch-up the whole year.
As a result, he only played 9.9 minutes per game.
“Last year, he couldn’t work on that because he couldn’t get up and down the court to be able to make a play,” Boeheim said. “He’s basically learning what we would have liked to have him learn last year.”
Melo finally got healthy, and spent the offseason getting in shape, shedding 30 pounds. Now, when Melo exits games, it isn’t because he’s winded.
Melo has played no fewer than 17 minutes a game this season, and set a career-high 32 minutes against Stanford in the preseason NIT. Melo’s high last year was 22 minutes.
“He’s getting there,” Boeheim said.
Said Melo: “I can do better, I am sure.”
Seems like coach and player have something they can agree on.