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Big East Conference Basketball: Syracuse Needs Better Play From Scoop Jardine

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-- SB Nation's Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has more Syracuse basketball coverage.

Let me start this article by stating I really like Syracuse Orange junior guard Scoop Jardine.

I love his style. I love his confidence. I love his ability to create for his teammates. I love how he truly has an all-around game -- ball handling, passing, driving and shooting.

But -- yeah, there's always a but -- he needs to play better if No. 4 Syracuse (16-0, 3-0) is going to have any chance at the Big East title or the Final Four in Houston, TX.

That last statement isn't debatable. Every SU media guy, supporter or player knows this. Heck, Jardine knows this.

Truth is, I hate calling out players because what do I really know?

I am a 5-foot-9 -- my fiance says I am lying and actually 5-8 -- white guy, who can (barely) dribble with just his right hand and if forced to shoot with a defender's hand in my face, I would be lucky to hit the backboard -- however, with no one guarding me, I'm Gerry McNamara in the 2003 National Title game. Downright unconscious.

I don't know what it's like to be the starting point guard on a CYO 10-and-under squad, let alone, a nationally-ranked team, which plays in front of 30,000-plus at the Carrier Dome.

However, what I do know is this: The SU offense goes as Scoop goes; and there was no better example of that than during Saturday's 61-56 win over the dreadful Seton Hall Pirates.

Scoop's first-half stats: Two points, one assists and three turnovers.

Scoop's second-half stats: 10 points, two assists and one turnovers. Five of those 10 points came in the game's final four minutes and helped SU hold on for its 16 straight win.

The first half of Saturday's game was downright brutal.

The Pirates shot 0-for-17 from behind the 3-point line and SU only led 20-19 at halftime. The 'Cuse went 7-for-23 (30.4 percent) from the floor with nine turnovers.

Now, a lot of SU's troubles came from Jardine, who maybe played the worst half of basketball I've ever seen -- of course this is an exaggeration but stay with me.

No. 11 was throwing 90-mph fastball to teammates, literally, five feet from him, chucking up off-balance shots and wasn't even trying to create easy baskets for teammates.

Head coach Jim Boeheim was so upset by Jardine's play -- actually, I am assuming he was because -- he sat the junior and had freshmen guards Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair play a large sum of minutes in the first half.

Luckily, with about two minutes remaining and the game at only a two-point SU advantage, Jardine snapped out of his Jared Smith impersonation and became the go-to guy.

It was nice to see Jardine step up when SU needed a leader -- it just seems that junior forward Kris Joseph isn't built for it. But what worries me the most is that Jardine's play, which was very consistent early in the season, hasn't improved during Big East play. It actually seems to have gotten worse -- especially in the aspects of being a point guard.

Here are some totals of Jardine BEFORE Big East play (13 games):

Points-per game (13.3); assists-per game (5.9); turnovers-per game (2.23) and steals-per game (2.0).

Jardine averages DURING his three Big East games:

Points-per game (16.0); assists-per game (6.3); turnovers-per game (4.0) and steals-per game (1.0).

Jardine's overall shooting percentages BEFORE Big East games:

Field-goal percentage (.432), free-throw percentage (.750) and 3-point percentage (.310).

Jardine's overall percentages AFTER three games in the Big East:

Field-goal percentage (.441), free-throw percentage (.694) and 3-point percentage (.228).

Some of those droppages in stats and percentages are pretty alarming. And, that's not good because like I wrote earlier: As Scoop goes, the SU offense goes.

So, Scoop get your head out of your Jardine and play better. The Orange can't win a Big East title or make the Final Four if you don't.

SB Nation New York's Watch List

Monday: No. 11 Notre Dame at Marquette (7 p.m. on ESPN2).

Big East Player Of The Week, freshman guard Ben Hansbrough, will try and keep the Fighting Irish, who have won 14 of its first 16 games for the first time since 2006-'07 season, on a roll.

The Golden Eagles have won two of their first three Big East games. Darius Johnson-Odam leads the team in scoring at 15.0 points-per game.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Ben Hansbrough 16 33.8 4.9 11.1 44.6 2.6 5.8 44.6 3.8 4.7 81.3 0.9 2.8 3.7 3.9 2.1 1.3 0.0 2.6 16.3

Tuesday: Rutgers at No. 9 UConn (7 p.m. on ESPN3).

As of Monday, the Scarlet Knights, who are playing extremely well defensively, are ranked third in the Big East in steals (8.87), fourth in blocks (5.6) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (.386).

Junior guard Kemba Walker, who knocked down a game-winning, step-back jumper in overtime to beat No. 12/14 Texas Longhorns Saturday, continues to shine. However, freshman guard Shabazz Napier earned Big East Rookie Of The Week for Jan. 10.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Shabazz Napier 14 24.5 2.9 7.5 39.0 1.5 3.9 38.9 2.3 3.0 76.2 0.8 1.4 2.2 2.9 1.9 1.8 0.1 1.9 9.6

Wednesday: No. 5 Pittsburgh at No. 13 Georgetown (7 p.m. on ESPN).

For the third straight season Pitt has started league play 3-0. As of Jan. 6, the Panthers led the nation in rebounding margin (+14.9) and assists (20.3 per game).

As of Jan. 6, the Hoyas led the conference in field goal percentage (.516) but, currently, they have dropped three of their last four league games.

Also playing Wednesday: No. 4 Syracuse at St. John's (7 p.m. on ESPN at MSG); No. 23 Louisville at No. 7 Villanova (7 p.m. on ESPN2) and Seton Hall at DePaul (9 p.m. on ESPN3).

Thursday: Providence at West Virginia (7 p.m. on ESPN2).

It's been an rough, early-season road for the Friars, who have lost their first four league games to No. 4 Syracuse, No. 5 Pitt, St. John's and Rutgers. Senior guard Marshon Brooks is averaging 26 points during conference play.

Mountaineers senior guard Casey Mitchell is coming off a 28-point performance Saturday against Georgetown. WVU has won six straight games against Providence.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Casey Mitchell 14 27.7 5.9 12.5 46.9 2.7 7.0 38.8 3.2 3.8 84.9 0.9 2.0 2.9 1.8 1.7 0.7 0.4 1.3 17.6

Saturday: No. 25 Cincinnati at No. 4 Syracuse (Noon on ESPN3).

The Bearcats won 15 straight before losing to Villanova on Sunday. That was the second-best start in program history.

Syracuse's 16-0 start is the programs best since the 1999-'00 season, which started 19-0.

Also playing Saturday: Seton Hall at Pitt (7 p.m. on ESPN3) and Georgetown at Rutgers (Noon on ESPNU).

Sunday: No. 11 Notre Dame at St. John's (Noon on ESPN3).

Nope, you're not reading this wrong. These two teams did play last week. Notre Dame ended the Johnnies five-game winning streak by winning 76-61 last Saturday.

SB Nation's Player Of The Week: SU's sophomore guard Brandon Triche

Against Seton Hall on Saturday, Triche came out of his first-half hibernation and netted 15 points -- including four 3-pointers -- in the first six and a half minutes of the second half.

That spark jump started the Orange's offense. Without Triche, SU is probably losing to one of the worst teams in conference.

Didn't See That Coming: Georgetown's loss to West Virginia.

Last week, I said that Hoya fans didn't need to panic, yet.

Well, start the hysteria because Georgetown plays No. 5 Pitt, Wednesday, and could fall to 1-4 in the conference.

That means by Thursday, GU could have a worse conference record than Seton Hall, which plays DePaul on Wednesday. Ewww.

Bold Prediction: St. John's gives SU its first loss of the season.

For the first time in who knows how many years, Madison Square Garden will actually feel like a home game for the Johnnies against the Orange. St. John's is fast, athletic and can play tough inside. Senior guard Dwight Hardy can also stroke it from 3-point range. That's a bad match-up against SU's 2-3 zone.

SU forward Rick Jackson will find foul trouble and St. John's forward Justin Brownlee will take advantage.

SB Nation Big East Blog Post Of The Week: Anonymous Eagle - For Marquette Golden Eagles Fans

"Fandom Question: I meant to write about this on Monday," wrote Admiral Ackbar Thursday. "During the West Virginia game I discovered that I've been sitting next to MU basketball legend Earl Tatum for the past season and a half. Not like, in the same row, he's in the seat right next to me. How the hell didn't I know this?. I mean, I'm sitting next to a tall African-American but I couldn't just ask: 'Did you play for Marquette?' I'm a terrible fan."

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