Monday, March 21, 2011

Syracuse loss leaves Jardine's future role in doubt

(photo courtesy of

I'm not going to throw all the blame for Syracuse's loss to Marquette yesterday on point guard Scoop Jardine. It was a very ugly game all around, starting with the Orange's 18 turnovers that allowed Marquette to get easy baskets in transition.

It's hard for me to say anything bad about Rick Jackson after the season he had but for a player who played every minute of the game, it's almost embarrassing to have just four rebounds. Baye Moussa Keita and Fab Melo didn't give him much for help in the post, combining for nine minutes and more fouls (three) than points, rebounds and blocks combined (two).

The fact that James Southerland played 21 minutes off the bench says a lot about Syracuse's depth issues. Brandon Triche's injury early in the second half didn't help matters, as he was unable to return and left the backcourt in the non-trustworthy hands of Jardine and Dion Waiters.

Waiters played well with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting but didn't record an assist. And his errant pass on a late inbounds play that forced Jardine into a backcourt violation led to Darius Johnson-Odom's go-ahead three-pointer.

The Orange missed Triche's leadership at the end of that game and they missed it badly. Especially when Jardine launched an ill-advised three-pointer with 20 seconds left when Syracuse had time to attack the basket and didn't need to force a three.

The real question now becomes: What happens next year? With McDonald's All-Americans Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas entering the fold, Jardine's place on this team next season may be on the bench.

Triche will start and if Williams can avoid a Fab Melo-like freshman season, he has a chance to crack the starting five as well. Waiters is likely even a better choice than Jardine, whose mental lapses, poor shot selection and inability to take care of the basketball at important times far outweigh the occasional highlight he provides.

Christmas may be the replacement for Jackson at center unless Melo or Keita develop rapidly in the offseason and if Kris Joseph leaves for the NBA (which he shouldn't), C.J. Fair might work his way into the starting lineup. Either way, I think most Syracuse fans would agree that Jardine should not start next season unless he changes the way he plays, which is unlikely at this stage of his career.

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