SU players coming to grips with loss of Fab Melo

The SU locker room still seemed stunned as the media entered for interviews on Wednesday afternoon, still trying to come to grips with the fact they'll have to play in the NCAA Tournament without the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

The team learned Fab Melo wasn't eligible for the Tournament just as they were leaving to the airport on Tuesday, but it really started to sink in when they took to the hardwood in Pittsburgh for their shoot-around, and witnessed no 7-foot Fab on the practice floor, just one day before taking on the 16th seed UNC-Asheville in their opening game on Thursday.

"It's one of those things we have to move forward," says senior Scoop Jardine, "We have a lot of guys on this team. One of the things people have been saying about us all year is our depth. This is our opportunity. We got to believe in ourselves and everybody have to step it up a notch and I think we'll be fine. We'll miss Fab, but for the most part it's one game and you out. We have to win to win the event and that's what it's all about right now."

"I'm just dealing with this team and what we're doing," responded Boeheim when asked how challenging this season has been with the Bernie Fine allegations, alleged drug eligibility issues, and now Fab's departure, "I'm not to comment about anything else. We'll write about it someday, all right (smiling)?"

The Orange will now have to re-write their plans for an NCAA National Championship, while many college basketball fans across the nation have re-written their tournament brackets.

The SU players don't have to look very far to find those who are now skeptical they can even reach the Final Four.

"We don't pay it no mind," says Jardine, "it don't matter at this point. Only thing we worried about is winning and advancing. They could say we wasn't a good team even when we had Fab. We was the least No. 1 seed. We still believe in ourselves. We believe we capable of winning the national championship with or without Fab. That's it. We believe in it. We don't really care too much what people say about us. We didn't get here by accident. We worked hard all year long by this. I think this is an opportunity for us to step up and prove everybody wrong."

The # 1 seed will start on that road on Thursday afternoon when they take on UNC-Ashville at around 3:10 PM. The game can be watched on TRUTV.

Click on the video link to watch John Evenson's story from Pittsburgh. You can also follow the CNYCentral sports team on Twitter at @CNYEvenson and @NikoTamurian.