How Fab Melo is doing these days

Remember all the hype a couple of summers ago surrounding the recruitment of Fab Melo, the 7-foot, 235-pound center from Brazil. He was expected to sign with Louisville, until he visited Syracuse, heard a speech by Vice President Joe Biden and decided to cast his lot with the Orange.

Melo is not off to a good start, averaging 1.8 rebounds and two points per game as a starter in 22 games. Jim Boeheim says Melo is  bothered by an achilles heel injury. No joke.

Gorgui Dieng, who accepted the scholarship that would have been awarded to Melo, was averaging 6.3 points and 4.6 rebounds before being injured in his 19th game against West Virginia.

Cincinnati’s Gates suspended indefinitely

Yancy Gates, the 6-foot-9, 265-pound intimidator at Cincinnati, has been suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules. Coach Mick Cronin gave no reason for the suspension, saying it was an accumulation of things.

Gates is team’s second leading scorer and top rebounder.

Cronin says his basketball players should follow three basic rules, “Play hard, have a good attitude and be a good guy.” As far as he was concerned, Gates had broken all three.  Cronin apparently has no plans for meeting with Gates anytime soon, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I believe, as the son of a high school coach, that my players are going to be taught to have the right attitude,” Cronin said, “to learn how to be a good person. The world doesn’t revolve around you.

Louisville travels to Cincinnati next week, a Wednesday encounter on Feb. 16.

Pittsburgh’s leading scorer injured

Ashton Gibbs, the leading scorer for Pitt with 16.3 points per game, was injured during his team’s 71-59 win over Cincinnati, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Pitt junior guard Ashton Gibbs could miss up to two weeks with an MCL injury in his left knee. He will not play at West Virginia Monday night and is doubtful for Saturday’s game at Villanova.  Team officials have not put a timetable on Gibbs’ return, but it is expected he’ll be out 10-14 days.

If so, he would be back in the lineup when Pitt visits Louisville for a CBS national telecast on Sunday, Feb. 27.

Signing Period Drama For Louisville Basketball

More drama, a time for a collective holding of the breath for University of Louisville fans. The National Letter of Intent signing period for high school basketball players begins Thursday and concludes May 19th.

This year the dramatics whirl around Marquis Teague, a 6-foot-2 guard from Indianapolis Pike, and Gorgui Dieng, a 6-foot-10 power forward from West Virginia. Depending on who you listen to, one or both — or neither one of them — will wind up in a U of L uniform. Most of the speculation, of course, centers on Teague who reportedly has been on the verge of making a commitment numerous times, only to postpone each time.

Seems like only yesterday that Louisville fans were stewing over the Fab Melo saga. Once considered a sure thing for Rick Pitino ...

Seems like only yesterday that fans were stewing over the Fab Melo saga. Once considered a sure thing for Rick Pitino, Melo last summer wound up committing to Syracuse. Among convincing factors was said to be a visit by Syracuse alum Vice President Joe Biden (yeah, I know) at the Carrier Dome. A new basketball practice gym brazenly named the Melo Center (after Carmelo Anthony) didn’t hurt Syracuse either.

The current drama for U of L fans is compounded by events in Lexington, for some reason Kentucky suddenly becoming a magnet for four- and five-star players. Teague is definitely on UK’s list. They also may chase Dieng, just to pull him away from Louisville, unless there’s a more desirable option.

Players should know at this stage where they want to play basketball. They know the coaches, they’ve visited the facilities, watched their prospective teams, met possible teammates (in most cases) and should be familiar with the traditions of the schools and their fan followings. However, some apparently covet the constant fawning of fans, the chatter on Internet boards, the sports page headlines, the ESPN adulation — all feeding the enormous egos of highly-prized recruits and some family members.

The inescapable conclusion is that there are other factors at work in some instances.

The inescapable conclusion is that there are other factors at work in some instances. History has taught us that the longer these things drag out, the worse they seem to turn out for Louisville. Basketball shoe contracts may have something to do with it, as well as the fact that Rick Pitino seems to shy away from intermediaries. Whether these are good or bad things, U of L has had more than its share of disappointments.

The unnecessary drama of this signing period simply underscores just how complex the process has become for a traditional basketball power and one of the game’s better coaches.

Fab Melo’s Reading File

One more thought on the Fab Melo recruiting process:

Who among us doubts that J. Bruce Miller’s article in the Courier-Journal berating the University of Louisville was not shown to Fab Melo by the other schools recruiting him? The CJ’s link no longer works but part of his article is quoted in my original reaction, which includes some followup from Miller.

Who doubts hat the article has been translated into at least four different languages by now?

Or who believes that under no circumstances would a Melo ever see all the followup letters poking holes in Miller’s assertions?

Not saying Miller diatribe was the final deciding factor, but it was not helpful either.

Thanks again, Bruce.

Not A Nice Day For Louisville Fans

Awakened by the rumble of heavy thunder, lightning and six to seven inches of rain in one hour, University of Louisville basketball fans should have known right away Tuesday was not going to be a good day.

The ensuing flooding would engulf large portions of Belknap Campus, with water reaching up to two overpasses, wiping out hundreds of vehicles, destroying untold numbers of computers and books at the main library, engulfing hundreds of basements, and forcing the shutdown of a local hospital for several weeks.

Meanwhile, the storm would also force postponement of big news for the new downtown arena (still unknown) while inconveniencing thousands of Louisvillians. To add insult to injury, Fab Melo would take his sweet time making his announcement, disappointing U of L fans in the end.

Not a good day for Louisville fans. A great one for Syracuse.

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Ironic that Fab Melo would sign on at a university that is building a new basketball practice facility called the Melo Center. Who could resist playing in a building that bears one’s last name?

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The observer knows Syracuse is a fine university with a great basketball program. That doesn’t make it any easier to lose a recruiting battle. Excuse one for not being happy for people clad in Orange.

Fab Melo Goes With Syracuse

Fab Melo has chosen Syracuse University over the University of Louisville as his choice for college basketball.

Had to be a difficult decision, passing on an opportunity to learn from Rick Pitino, to perform in front of some of the game’s most knowledgeable fans, and to help inaugurate the best college basketball facility in the country when the new 22,000-seat facility opens during the 2010 season.

For Syracuse.

Louisville fans wish him well.