Anthony Learning Big East Ropes

Carmelo Anthony's critics have begun to surface. After having a stellar non-conference schedule, some seem to think that Anthony has hit a wall and may not be as good as advertised. Those people are right. Anthony has hit a wall: the Big East Conference.

Those who thought the freshman phenom would gracefully transition from the likes of Cornell and Binghamton to Pittsburgh and Miami are terribly mistaken. Syracuse spent the first six weeks of the season playing glorified high school teams. I could dominate, too, if I played against some middle school kids.

Seeing how remarkable Anthony played at the start of the year, he could only go down from that. He scored 27 points and tallied 11 rebounds in his debut. So his games of scoring 16, 11, and 12 points seem just mediocre. However, consider the changes that take place when starting conference play.

Obviously, there is better competition. No conversation needed for that. Secondly, Big East coaches have consistently attached two defenders to Anthony's back pockets, following him on the court like a loyal pooch with its owner. Anthony has seen many double-teams, limiting his scoring. Thirdly, the teams are familiar with Syracuse's offensive sets and can defend better than a team who is seeing Syracuse for the first time.

I am more impressed, not with his scorching start, but, with the way he has handled the increased competition. Most freshman would press to find ways to score, forcing shots and causing turnovers. Anthony has absorbed the double-teams, passed out of the traps, and let the game come to him. Yesterday, Anthony recorded his tenth double-double of the season. Compare that to junior Darius Rice of Miami, considered one of the top players in the Big East. Rice compiled his first double-double of the year. With ten times as many double-doubles as one of the stars of his conference, Anthony shows that, when the points are not coming, he can still rebound the basketball. At 6'8'', Anthony is a premiere rebounder. He rebounds better than Kevin Costner after one of his movie flops (see Waterworld and The Postman).

Carmelo has not lost his shot; the ball just has not been falling lately. He is not "hitting the wall"; just better opponents. He is not in a slump; he is just a targeted man.

Such is the life of a Big East star. Just like he did over some lowly Binghamton Bearcat defender, though, he will rise above this and finish with a slam dunk.

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