With a victory over the Providence Friars Saturday the Syracuse University men's basketball program will tie two team-oriented school records: Number of weeks as the No. 1-ranked team (6) and consecutive victories to begin a season (19).
The success of the Orange (17-0, 4-0) has been credited to the team's depth, which has a solid 10-man rotation that features: The Sporting News' Mid-Season All-American candidate, senior forward Kris Joseph, Big East Conference Sixth Man of The Year candidate, sophomore guard Dion Waiters, and Bob Cousy Award Finalists, senior guard Scoop Jardine.
"For us, for the most part, we don't think we're talked about enough as a No. 1," said Jardine. "People are saying we don't deserve it, that we shouldn't be No. 1. They want to see the Kentuckys, North Carolinas, Ohio States at No. 1. Syracuse, tradition-wise, is the same as those teams. We try to keep ourselves motivated knowing that we don't get talked about enough. We'll go out there and prove everyone wrong who says we don't deserve that No. 1 spot."
And, for those Jardine naysayers who would like to see more out of the senior, who's point production has dropped this season from about 12.5 points per game to about 8.3, and playing minutes have been cut. Well, he's not complaining, so nor should you.
"...This is a team that I knew coming back this year, I knew my scoring would go down," said Jardine. "A guy like myself, who can accept his role and play to the best of his abilities, is also going to be right for the team. The sacrifices I've made for this team are great. If you look at our record and where we're ranked in the country, that's the reason. I don't have to go out there and score 25 points. I just have to be there when my team needs me and make game-changing plays, which I've done throughout the season."
You can read the full interview here, and, please, do because after reading it, hopefully, if you're a Jardine critic, you'll have a bit more of an appreciation for him, which I have had his whole collegiate career.
Does Jardine make some head-scratching plays at times? Of course, but I've done a lot less head-pounding-against-a-wall with Jardine then I did with former point guard Eric Devendorf -- a player some fans say was better.
I've also heard this a lot, "Jardine isn't a championship-caliber point guard," which is an opinion I completely disagree with. Jardine's late-game heroics, Dec. 2, against the Florida Gators -- a contest that had a Sweet 16 or Elite 8-like feel to it -- proved that, as the senior netted eight of his 16 points in the final six minutes to help SU cement the (then) top 10 victory.
|2011 - Scoop Jardine||18||21.7||3.4||6.5||52.1||0.7||2.2||30.0||0.9||1.7||51.6||0.6||1.7||2.3||4.3||2.2||1.5||0.1||0.7||8.3|
Last season, Jardine failed to raise his "clutch" level when he committed a few bonehead mistakes that helped end SU's season, which was capped with a loss to the Marquette Golden Eagles in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
However, just a week before Jardine did this in the semifinal round of the Big East Tournament.
Does that make Jardine Michael Jordan? No -- M.J. would have led his team to an overtime victory like Connecticut Huskies' Kemba Walker did. But, a fan has to respect his confidence in his ability, regardless if its overrated or not -- to be honest, I disliked Devendorf a lot but I trusted his last-second shot ability/decision making because I knew he believed in himself more than anybody not named Gerry McNamara.
At times, mainly in the past, Jardine's self confidence hurt SU. However, with a new role in 2012, which takes a lot of his "lets force the issue here" decision making out of his hands, he has become an outstanding assets to guys like Joseph, Waiters, and 3-point threat, junior forward James Southerland, whose productions have all been either more efficient or has increased this season.
Mock Mr. Jardine all you want, but this is one Syracuse basketball beat writer who's standing (and or living and dying) by him.
The Syracuse basketball schedule features the Orange hosting the Providence Friars Saturday (6 p.m. on SNY). On Monday, SU hosts the Pittsburgh Panthers in a Big East "Big Monday" showdown (7:30 p.m. on ESPN).
For more coverage of Syracuse vs. Providence stay tuned to our SU Basketball StoryStream. For more Syracuse coverage, visit our team page and our blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. For more Big East basketball coverage, visit Big East Coast Bias.