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13 SYRACUSE Orange

There's a new Melo in town, but the bar has been lowered from last season

IN THE SUMMER of 2009, Rob Murphy stepped into the sound booth at a friend's recording studio. One hour later the Syracuse assistant coach emerged a recording artist, having laid down a freestyle rap called Shut It Down. Inspired by his team's signature 2--3 zone, the song became the theme for a season in which Syracuse achieved its first No. 1 AP ranking in two decades. Ultimately, though, the high-flying Orange bowed to Butler in the Sweet 16.

It's fitting, then, that for Midnight Madness last month the players unveiled a fresh new track: Unfinished Business. With the graduation of center Arinze Onuaku, as well as the departure to the NBA of the team's top two scorers, Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins, much of the responsibility for the team's success this season will fall to the Big East's Sixth Man of the Year, junior forward Kris Joseph, who averaged 10.8 points per game and shot 49.0% to help Syracuse lead the nation in field goal percentage (51.6) in 2009--10.

But not everyone is convinced that Joseph can lead the Orange. He was named to the Wooden Award watch list but left off the preseason all-conference first team by the Big East coaches. Says Joseph of the lukewarm reviews, "I'm motivated enough already, but this extra motivation is definitely a plus."

A talented core of experienced players—guards Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine and forward Rick Jackson—will provide help. And freshman Fabricio (Fab) Melo, a McDonald's All-American from Sagemont High in Weston, Fla., should be an immediate contributor. "The younger guys will have to produce," says coach Jim Boeheim, "but they aren't going to be the key."

The coach even sees championship potential. "In '03 we only had two upperclass guys," he says. "This year we have the same kind of breakdown but a little more veteran [leadership]." That should be all the motivation the Orange needs to get down to business.


Coach Jim Boeheim (35th season)

2009--10 record 30--5

Big East 15--3 (1st)

NCAA tournament Sweet 16


Returning starter

*High school stats


Nov. 12 Northern Iowa

Nov. 14 Canisius

Nov. 16 Detroit

Nov. 21 William & Mary

Nov. 26 Michigan*

Nov. 27 Georgia Tech or UTEP*

Nov. 30 Cornell

Dec. 4 N.C. State

Dec. 7 Michigan State†

Dec. 11 Colgate

Dec. 18 Iona

Dec. 20 Morgan State

Dec. 22 Drexel

Dec. 28 Providence College

Jan. 1 Notre Dame

Jan. 8 at Seton Hall

Jan. 12 at St. John's

Jan. 15 Cincinnati

Jan. 17 at Pittsburgh

Jan. 22 Villanova

Jan. 25 Seton Hall

Jan. 29 at Marquette

Feb. 2 at Connecticut

Feb. 5 at South Florida

Feb. 9 Georgetown

Feb. 12 at Louisville

Feb. 14 West Virginia

Feb. 19 Rutgers

Feb. 21 at Villanova

Feb. 26 at Georgetown

March 5 DePaul

*Legends Classic, Atlantic City

†Jimmy V Classic, New York City


Last season, No. 3--ranked Syracuse had its heart broken with a Valentine's Day upset by unranked Louisville at the Carrier Dome. The Orange is 0--6 against the Cardinals since 2007, and Rick Pitino's young Louisville squad will give Boeheim's bunch a tough run again this season.

Get the latest and best Orange stories, statistics and fan blogs from across the Web, handpicked by the editors of SI.



KRIS JOSEPH A supersub last year, Joseph made the Wooden watch list but was left off the preseason All--Big East first team.