MBB : Melo anchors SU defense in win over Marquette, draws 4 charges

first_img Comments Published on January 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjr Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Fab Melo failed to record a block for just the third time this season. He was mired in foul trouble from the opening minutes.The stage was set for a disastrous night for the Syracuse center. Yet he remained valuable defensively. Melo took four charges in a six-minute span in the first half, a foundation of the Orange’s 18-point halftime lead.‘He changed the game for us in the first half,’ SU guard Scoop Jardine said. ‘… We need him on the floor because when he’s on the floor our defense is so different when you got a guy back there who’s taking charges, blocking shots, getting the crowd into it defensively.’It didn’t appear as if Melo was going to have a successful performance against Marquette when he picked up two fouls and was out of the game less than two minutes after it began. In a 21-second span, he fouled Davante Gardner when the MU forward rose for a shot, and then again as they fought for a rebound on SU’s offensive end. Yet the sophomore displayed his ongoing maturation process in the Orange’s (17-0, 4-0 Big East) 73-66 win over Marquette (12-4, 1-2) on Saturday. Melo did foul out, but it wasn’t until there was 11 seconds left and the win was secured.And while he entered the game averaging six blocks per game in SU’s three Big East games and had none Saturday, he found other ways to contribute.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘He’s got to draw charges, it’s as simple as that,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘You’re less likely getting in foul trouble than trying to block it, in a charge situation.’Before picking up any fouls, Melo took a charge from Gardner on Marquette’s first possession of the game. But the second time the 6-foot-8, 290-pound Gardner barreled down the lane, Melo didn’t get in front of him in time and Gardner converted a three-point play.Fortunately for Melo, backup center Baye Keita returned after missing Wednesday’s game at Providence with a hip injury and anchored the center of SU’s 2-3 zone while Melo sat.Still, Syracuse needed Melo on the floor. Melo returned with SU leading 16-12 and 11:57 left in the first half.About a minute after Melo reentered, Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom slashed into the lane and dished to Gardner. Melo was in good position to take the charge, though.‘I’m moving well now, so it’s just if I’m moving well it’s just what I’m going to do,’ Melo said. ‘I knew that last year, I just wasn’t in shape enough to get there on time. And now I’m in good shape so I can get there on time and get the charge.’Jae Crowder tried to drive baseline against the zone, and he got as far as the left block. There was Melo, taking another charge with 9:27 left in the first half.Todd Mayo was next. Fourty-nine seconds after Crowder committed a foul, Mayo got into the lane with the ball. The referees blew the foul on the MU guard, and Melo jogged down the court laughing.Watching Melo, it was difficult to imagine he was playing with two fouls.‘They knew we were in foul trouble so they tried to take me out with five fouls,’ Melo said. ‘But I think I did a good job.’He came out with seven minutes remaining in the first half, still with two fouls and with the Orange outscoring Marquette 10-3 while he was in the game.He picked up his third foul 1:29 into the second half, and again took an early seat on the bench as Keita took his place. He didn’t take any more charges in the second half, but still maintained an aggressive presence while being careful at the same time.In one moment, he was too aggressive. After the referees reviewed the play, Melo’s fourth foul was determined to be flagrant for elbowing Johnson-Odom. Melo said he didn’t see or feel the play, but saw Johnson-Odom on the ground and the foul was eventually called.Melo sat from that point, with 9:41 remaining in the game, but returned with about four minutes left.With Syracuse leading 63-57, Melo rose highest for a rebound off a missed 3 by Crowder. Moments later, he watched Johnson-Odom sink a 3 to make the score 66-60. He quickly hustled up court and answered by receiving a lob from Jardine for an alley-oop.No blocks, sure. But six points, eight rebounds, and perhaps most importantly, four charges.‘That’s four turnovers,’ SU guard Brandon Triche said. ‘We get the ball. You get a blocked shot, sometimes they get the ball back, they score. Charges, we automatically get the ball back.’mcooperj@syr.edulast_img

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