Back in action

SU basketball returned to action, dominating Kutztown in its first exhibition game of the season.


Senior big man Rick Jackson started off the 2010-2011 basketball season Monday night by quickly scoring the first two buckets of the game as SU went on to rout Kuztown.

While Jackson got the season off to a good start, the 7,371 in attendance were all there to see the debut of Fab Melo. The Brazilian big man picked up an offensive foul in his first two minutes, but then quickly gave the fans what they were waiting for. On the very next play Melo blocked a shot and followed it up with a steal on the inbounds pass.  With no one in front of him, the 7’0” 244 pound freshmen took the ball coast-to-coast and finished it off with a thunderous two-hand dunk.

Photo: Aaron Katchen
Scoop Jardine conrtols the ball during SU's win over visiting Kutztown Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome.

And just like that, Melo was back in a Syracuse uniform.

“Oh yeah!,” said Melo. “When I had my first dunk I was like ‘yeah I’m in the right place, I’m in the Dome.”

The usual lineup of Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, and Jackson joined Melo in Coach Boeheim’s starting five. Boeheim went to his bench early in the first half when he subbed James Southerland, Baye Moussa Keita, and highly touted frosh Dion Waiters into the game.

Midway through the first half, Kuztown was still hanging around due to the play of senior guard Steve Coffey and junior forward Eric Brennan. But as the half wound down Joseph hit a three pointer from the left wing at the buzzer to extend the halftime lead to fifteen.

With his starters on the bench to open the second half, Boeheim added a new wrinkle to his defense when he decided to put 6’8” James Southerland on the ball as SU came out in a full court press. The move caught Kuztown by surprise and caused them to burn two quick timeouts in order to get the ball inbounds.

Being one of the leaders on the team, Jardine was impressed in how his teammates handled the new defensive scheme and their overall intensity.  Being a longtime friend of Waiters, Jardine gave his buddy some calming words of advice as he played his first game under the lights of the Dome.

“I was impressed with their intensity on defense,” said Jardine. “I kind of told Dion just to relax because he will always be able to get his shot when the season comes, but right now its about getting other guys involved.”

After the game, Waiters admitted to being nervous as he smiled when reflecting on the night. Everything seemed to slow down for the Philadelphia native as the game moved along.

“I felt good to finally be out there,” said Waiters. “I went at my pace (in the second half) and tried to control the game more. I wasn’t hitting my shots but I got a lot of guys involved.”

As the game wound down to the end, Joseph was able to get in a few highlights as he rocked the rim with a couple of two handed dunks assisted by Triche.  The team won’t have another game until next Tuesday when they face Le Moyne in a rematch of last year’s shocker when they were upset 82-79 by their cross-town foe. 

Coach Boeheim will definitely be working on shooting drills in practice over the week as the team shot a dismal 5-for-29 from the three-point line. But for right now Boeheim is pleased with his team’s effort and looking forward to this weekend’s activities.

“I thought it was a good night out,” said Boeheim. “We’ve got a few days of practice and we’re all going to go to the football game Saturday, and if they win four more games we won’t have to talk about basketball for a while.” 


Freshman guard Dion Waiters drives into the paint Tuesday night against Kutztown. (Photo: Aaron Katchen)

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