Fab Melo Set to Return to Struggling Syracuse Orange Saturday vs. St. Johns

Andrew PreglerContributor IIIFebruary 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 11:  (L-R) Kris Joseph #32 and Fab Melo #51 of the Syracuse Orange talk as they walk on the court against the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on January 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The Juice Online is reporting that Fab Melo will return to the Orange this weekend. An anonymous source says that the center will be in the lineup when Syracuse takes on the St. John's Red Storm at noon in the Orange's home away from home in New York City. 

The Juice was the first source to report that Fab Melo was facing academic issues although the University denied these claims when first raised before the Villanova game.

Syracuse has struggled without their seven foot Brazilian manning the middle of the lane. The Orange have been out-rebounded 193-103 in the three games without Melo while Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Kieta have struggled to play consistently.

The Orange offense and defense has struggled without Fabricio because he is the most consistent big man the Orange have. Christmas and Kieta have been good in spurts, but neither can provide the shot-blocking threat and ability of Melo. 

Another victim of Fab's absence has been C.J. Fair. In his appearances with Fab, he was a complete player who rarely made mistakes. When taking a starting role, C.J. has failed to deliver the same production.

Furthermore, the Orange's depth at forward/center has hurt as Christmas and Keita had to play more minutes against bigger opponents such as West Virginia. 

With Fab back, the Orange transition game is much more open and the halfcourt game runs much smoother. This good news comes just in time for the toughest stretch of the Syracuse schedule.