Syracuse fans have spent much of the early portion of the season fretting over the disappointing play of freshman forward Fab Melo. Melo was the No. 1 center in the 2010 class, and with that status -- and with some very promising words from Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim during the preseason -- high expectations followed. Melo hasn't lived up. Instead, he's averaging 2.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and one block in 13.5 minutes per game.
Is he just not there yet? Or does something more sinister -- an injury, perhaps -- lurk beneath the surface? On a conference call Monday, Boeheim revealed that Melo has indeed been struggling with a nagging Achilles heel thus far. And no, I'm not being metaphorical:
"His Achilles has been sore for a couple weeks and he's having trouble getting up and down the court like we need him to," Boeheim said. "That's held him back." Boeheim, too, said he had just returned from the doctor's office to have his dislocated finger attended to.
It's never good news to hear a player is injury, but this qualifies as encouraging. If Melo had been at full strength these past few weeks, then he'd be an early disappointment, less an impact freshman than a developmental project with lots of work ahead of him. Given the injury, there's hope for Cuse fans that Melo will be much better when he's fully healthy. Emphasis on "hope."