Melo, Mookie and More
The semi-annual long break between games usually tests me as a fan, even when I know it’s coming when the season starts. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on where you stand), over the last few days, some interesting plot points have transpired.
- Wednesday’s big news was the unveiling of alternate uniforms the team will wear in its game against South Florida on February 22. This development confirmed a UniWatch rumor from earlier in the week, and after I expressed some initial displeasure Wednesday morning, I was able to collect my thoughts a little more coherently. I’m still not fond of the gray, not because it’s Georgetown’s primary color, but because I just don’t think it looks good. One quick look at my Twitter feed was all I needed to realize that I wasn’t in the minority, but it’s important to remember that rightly or wrongly, this decision isn’t about appeasing fans – it’s about attracting recruits. There is enormous cache tied up in schools’ partnerships with Nike, and they have easily the most clout with high school prospects of the major collegiate apparel manufacturers. This isn’t the most pleasant part of being a fan, but the reality is that Syracuse University nets tons of money from Nike, and every few years that means having to parade around with other schools in unfamiliar gear. It’s worth pointing out that every school participating (UConn, Kentucky, Duke, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina in addition to Syracuse) has been wildly successful on the recruiting trail recently, and you’re crazy if you underestimate the pull of the Swoosh when it comes to attracting top high school talent. I think the fact that this game isn’t being nationally televised reduces some of the potential impact for Nike at the cash registers, but it will still be viewable in the areas the Orange recruit the hardest, and that’s the most important thing to remember. It may bother the purists, and if you’re one of them, I don’t blame you one bit for being upset, but it’s a part of major college athletics and keeping up with the Joneses, not simply a chance for Nike to
- We also got word on Wednesday that “it could be a while” before Fab Melo suits back up for the Orange. Right now, there’s no way of knowing exactly what this means – it could be three days, two weeks, maybe the rest of the season. What I do know is that I don’t think Donna Ditota would’ve brought the unconfirmed report to the masses if she didn’t think there was some legitimacy to it, but at the same time, without having more information, it’s futile to get wrapped up in what the source meant with his or her words. Obviously, if Melo is to miss more time, the rest of the team will have to bear down and we’ll have to hope for more displays like what we saw out of Rakeem Christmas on Monday night. In the short term, there’s some relief in that the Orange only play twice between today and the second week of February, with one of those games coming against a St. John’s team struggling to the point where Melo’s availability shouldn’t factor into the outcome. There’s still time for the matter at hand to be resolved without Melo missing much in terms of games, so you’ll have to forgive me for staying away from the ledge on this one.
- This is old news by now, but it’s my first chance to talk about Mookie Jones leaving the team. I won’t spend a ton of digital ink on it because of his minimal impact on games, but he’s not totally irrelevant in the bigger picture, either. By all accounts, Mookie left Syracuse on good terms and there may be a place for him on the team next season if he takes care of the personal matters that led to his departure. If his enthusiastically-choreographed pregame handshakes were any indication, he got along great with his teammates and with the Orange having a special season, I can’t imagine he would leave school if the reason wasn’t vitally important to him. While he never developed beyond the role of victory cigar, he stuck it out for 3.5 years when the outbursts he displayed as a younger player suggested a much a shorter stay on The Hill. It wasn’t that long ago where it felt like Mookie would up and leave at a moment’s notice, but his change in attitude as of late actually managed to make the news of his withdrawal a little more surprising. That he stuck around as long as he did when we’ve seen head cases run off by Jim Boeheim or leave on their own accord probably says something about Mookie’s relationship with Boeheim and his growth as a person, so I’ll be rooting for him to return to school so he can finish up and walk away with a degree.