While Syracuse may be returning most of its core players this season, the one exception is Rick Jackson. The forward was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 13.1 points and 10.3 rebounds, and was SU’s most consistent player throughout the year. Although the Orange has plenty of talent across the board, Jackson’s role may be a difficult one to fill.
Melo did slightly better than average, but he didn’t do that much worse than Syracuse’s best freshman center in 15 years. Was it disappointing that he didn’t live up to the hype? Yes. But is it surprising? Looking at the production of other freshman centers, I don’t think so. More importantly, is it Melo’s fault that he was given unrealistic expectations by the media? Absolutely not.
During Saturday’s 58-51 victory against Georgetown, the two combined for 20 minutes of action. Keita had one rebound in 13 minutes of play, while Melo had a rebound and two points on an alley-oop from Scoop Jardine in transition. It was the first time that Melo played more than five minutes since Syracuse’s 72-49 win against South Florida on Feb. 9. It may be a sign of things to come as Syracuse heads into championship season.