Posted on: July 22, 2011 6:52 pm

Unreliability with tourneys, teams in Las Vegas

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- Coaching staffs spend countless minutes planning out their recruiting schedules, down to how many minutes it takes to get from one gym to another.

It's a science to figure out how to see as many targets as possible.

Friday afternoon, Mike Hopkins and I left one game early to catch a prospect at a gym 25 minutes away. The kid wasn't there -- he was playing on a different team.

"No question [it's annoying]," Hopkins said. "It is what it is. It's part of the deal, it happens all the time."

At an event like the Peach Jam, where everything is in one place, it might not matter. In Vegas, though, it changes the entire schedule.

"We spend 20 minutes going there, we could've gotten something to eat, gone over here, over there," Hopkins said.
"Time is of the essence, when you're going from gym to gym to gym."

And it's back to the drawing board.

Posted on: July 22, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 7:05 pm

July recruiting: Babysitting vs. real evaluation

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- More than half of the recruiting that goes on during the month of July is, for the most part, babysitting.

Coaches go to games of their prospective recruits, and they simply sit there in order to make sure their target knows that they're there and watching.

In some cases, though, evaluation does occur. Assistant coaches need to verify things they have heard about, or give a second opinion on what another coach has seen. For Mike Hopkins, it's all about figuring out how the kid fits into Syracuse's system.

"At Syracuse, we've always had great forwards," Hopkins said, rattling off Carmelo Anthony, John Wallace, Billy Owens, Derrick Coleman and others. "We have to find people that fit what we do."

Some of the targets on this day happened to be top-25 prospects, but the ranking isn't the most important factor when evaluating.

Hopkins said doing that leads to teams with players that don't mesh well.

"It's bad business when you take guys only because they're rated high," he said. "Some coaches say, 'Oh I heard he's good, why aren't we recruiting him?' They want to go on the golf course and talk about who they got. That's how you win the press conference, not games."

Hopkins said it ultimately doesn't matter if a kid is rated No. 50, No. 100 or not ranked at all. When watching a player for the first time, the hype goes out the window.

Coaches simply look for a kid who will help the program and fit a role.

"It's about having a great team," Hopkins said.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:28 pm

Starting the Mike Hopkins Las Vegas experience

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- Right before I went to sleep at 2 a.m. on Thursday night, I received a call from Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins.

Hopkins had just landed in Vegas and was still waiting for his rental car. He said he was going to get back to the hotel and check his schedule to figure out what time to meet up Friday morning.

Now, considering Hopkins was still on Eastern time and would not get to his hotel until at least 2:30 a.m., I didn't expect to meet until at least 9 a.m. Color me surprised when I received a text in the wee hours: "Leaving hotel at 7:15."

Three hours of sleep, travel nightmares, driving around all day to remote gyms.

The life of an assistant coach on the road.

Similar to the way Gary Parrish followed Tom Izzo and Jeff Goodman trailed Ryan Marks, I will be riding shotgun with Hopkins all of Friday to see what life is like as a high-major assistant coach.

Keep checking back here for stories from the road, what it's like to be the head coach-in-waiting and more of Hopkins' perspectives on the life of an assistant coach.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:53 am

Fab Melo is reminded he can't contact his ex

By Matt Norlander

After an initial postponement, Fab Melo appeared in Syracuse City Court yesterday.

The meeting with City Judge Stephen Dougherty was over Melo's violent behavior toward an ex-girlfriend. Turns out, the primary purpose yesterday's appearance served was for Melo to get an official re-delivering of the message: you can't go near the woman who you asked about wanting your blood. Yep. That's it. Just a quick, how-you-do and then Melo was on his way.
Melo, 20, and defense lawyer Gary Sommer met briefly with Assistant District Attorney Melinda McGunnigle and City Judge Stephen Dougherty in court this afternoon. Sommer told the judge Melo is in counseling and McGunnigle asked the judge to remind Melo there is an order of protection directing him to have no contact with the victim.
Melo's case has been halted for further movement until Aug. 31, wherein it's suspected he'll be given a relatively light punishment, considering the allegations. Some probation, maybe community service. But a fine? Who knows. If so, how does he pay it?

Even if this case ends up having a swift, dispensable ending, it doesn't mean Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University should go easy on Melo. Boeheim has been mum on his underwhelming big man, opting to remain silent in respect to the legal proceedings, of course. But Syracuse has had an unfortunate, undeniable pattern of its football and basketball players not only getting into trouble with the law, but specifically, domestic abuse cases. Even if Melo's isn't the worst, it's the most recent and continues a pattern.

Two months from now, Boeheim & Co. should have a disciplinary plan in place once Melo completes whatever punishment he's handed out by the courts.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 14, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 1:53 pm

Fab Melo's court date delayed

By Matt Norlander

One of the bigger offseason stories that isn't getting as much attention as it should is the saga with Fab Melo at Syracuse. The Orange sophomore's appearance in Syracuse City domestic court has been pushed back to June 23, according to the Post-Standard. It was originally scheduled for today, June 14.

The details of why the date was pushed back were not reported.

Melo was arraigned in court June 1 for an incident that took place at his girlfriend's house in late May. The details and allegations from that incident are ugly and don't put Melo in any sort of positive light. In fact, they make the highly touted Brazilian center look petty, jealous and possibly chemically imbalanced.

More background: an off-record source told CollegeHoopsJournal.com Melo has been plagued by anger issues since he arrived on campus last fall.

No matter, the detailed incident at hand is unsettling and something Syracuse athletics is no doubt looking at right now. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim hasn't spoken on the record about Melo's current ordeal, which is no surprise, considering it's an ongoing legal mater.

The outcome of Melo's case could eventually have an effect on the sophomore center's situation with the basketball team, but we may not have an answer on that for a few more weeks, or longer, depending on what the courts decide and then what Boeheim does afterward.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 13, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:30 pm

Ricardo Ledo aims for consistency


By Jeff Borzello

BRONX, N.Y. -- When Ricardo Ledo is on top of his game, there's not a better scorer in the country.

However, it's his inconsistency that has prevented him from breaking into the top-five players in 2012. That was clearly on display this weekend at the Rumble in the Bronx, when Ledo lit up the scoreboard on Friday night – only to turn around and struggle immensely Saturday morning. He was scoreless for most of the early game, with his only points coming on a few late 3-pointers.

"I played a lot better yesterday," Ledo said. "I took too many 3s today."

Despite his up-and-down play at times, Ledo still ranks near the top of his class. With his combination of size and skill, he's essentially unguardable.

Ledo is confident about his standing nationally.

"I think I'm the best guard in the country," he said. "I can do so many things."

At 6-foot-6, the Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) product has the ability to see over most opposing guards. He can handle the ball well, has a very good mid-range game and can also shoot from deep. Ledo can post up smaller guards and demonstrates great body control when knocking in tough shots. He has a great first step and uses his length to finish effectively at the rim.

Ledo, who plays on the AAU circuit with Expressions Elite and the Albany City Rocks, admits he has things to work on.

"My all-around game needs to get better," he said, pointing to defense as his major weakness.

As for recruiting, the former Providence commit is taking his time wading through the myriad colleges currently courting him.

Kentucky, Syracuse, Providence and Connecticut are the four currently standing out for Ledo, but Texas, Florida, Arizona and Maryland are also heavily involved.

"I want to go somewhere I can win," he said. "Playing time is also important."

If Ledo develops consistency, though, he will likely find getting playing time won't be much of a problem. 

Photo: Rush the Court 

Posted on: June 3, 2011 8:38 am

Kuran Iverson stays out of the spotlight

Posted by Jeff Borzello

RALEIGH, N.C. – For such a highly-ranked player, Kuran Iverson gets very little coverage on a consistent basis.

It could be attributed to his lack of appearances on the AAU circuit, the fact he plays for a small school in Connecticut, or simply because you don’t know where and when he will show up.

For example, it was rumored he would play with the Long Island Lightning at the Tournament of Champions. On Friday, he wasn’t there. After a flight delay, Iverson appeared on Saturday to help lead the Lightning to the U-16 championship game.

“I haven’t played ball in awhile,” Iverson said.

The 6-foot-8 small forward from Northwest Catholic (Conn.) has sat out most of the spring period to focus on academics. Now, Iverson said his grades are in good shape.

Also in good shape is Iverson’s game. The rising junior is an absolute matchup nightmare due to his size and skillset. He can handle the ball well and is able to knock down perimeter jumpers. Moreover, he is versatile enough to play around the rim and make passes over the defense. Iverson still seems to be growing, which could hamper his ability to run the floor. With that said, his potential might be as high as anyone in the class of 2013.

The younger cousin of former NBA star Allen Iverson will have his pick when it comes to colleges.

For now, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Kentucky, Syracuse, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are in the mix.

Although he doesn’t seem anywhere close to a decision, Iverson likes North Carolina and Connecticut.

While on Tobacco Road, Iverson took a trip to Chapel Hill. “I like the team, everybody played hard,” he said of the Tar Heels.

The national champion Huskies are his home state team, but location has nothing to do with why they are high on his list. “I just like Kemba,” Iverson said.

Iverson also mentioned that he wants to visit St. John’s.

With his combination of size, skill and athleticism, Iverson is guaranteed to make an impact at the next level.

If colleges can find him, of course.

Photo: Hartford Courant 

Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 2:57 pm

Fab Melo allegedly a jealous, abusive boyfriend

Posted by Matt Norlander

This Fab Melo ordeal is getting ugly quickly. In fact, it's been allegedly ugly and unseemly and inappropriate for awhile.

That's because the Syracuse sophomore center's unidentified girlfriend told police that Melo has been abusive toward her "four or five" times since the two began an intimate relationship in October.

Melo was arrained in court Wednesday morning due to an incident wherein he became violent and broke the turning signal in his girlfriend's car. After obtaining the police report, the Post-Standard has more details, per the girlfriend's account.

On Monday, the 22-year-old woman fled Melo’s Slocum Heights apartment after Melo became jealous, first of a phone call and then of males who had posted comments on her Facebook wall.

On Tuesday, she was escorted to the Syracuse police’s Domestic Violence Unit by an assistant district attorney, where detectives interviewed her. She told them that coming to the police was “her last resort,” records state.

The details get worse from there. Melo looked at her Facebook wall (Facebook is the worst thing to ever happen to relationships), saw some comments from other males he didn't approve of, then smashed his computer in anger. Naturally.

According to the girl's statement, then there was a fight in the house and she attempted to leave after sequestering herself for some time in Melo's bathroom. Before getting away in her car, Melo threw dirt on her, bloodied his hand somehow, and then reached into her car and ripped off her turn signal.

While doing this, his blood smeared on his girlfriend's shirt. That shirt is now being held as evidence. Melo apparently told her, "Here, you want my blood?" before the incident ended. How dramatic and romantic. Goodness gracious what an unnecessary catastrophe.

The relationship ended in May -- and then the two got back together recently. We've all either been a part of something like this or had a close friend or two get sucked into a vortex of it's-done/no-it's-not-done relationship that tailspins until its ultimate, inevitable, ugly end. That scene usually reaches a head outside of a party between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m. Crying and cursing tags alongside a feeling of defeated and apathetic acceptance. A sad but crucial stage in the evolution of dating.

It's very clear that Melo has the same issue so many hot-blooded college-age men and women fall victim to: insufferable, crippling jealousy. That's still not reason to ever, ever get violent with a woman. And now Melo's seemingly done too much and put himself and his reputation in a very bad spot.

As of now his status on the team isn't in question. Should it be? We're talking about a player allegedly abusing his girlfriend. Serious character issues -- and Melo wasn't a difference-maker last season. Sadly, college athletes have remained on teams for doing worse, sometimes without discipline. Jim Boeheim will let the law take its course before he does anything, most likely. Melo will appear in Syracuse court June 14.

Category: NCAAB
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