When Big East play got underway I was lucky enough to see, in-person, the then undefeated Syracuse Orange play consecutive games.
The Orange ran over Providence on a Wednesday, then defeated Marquette three days later in the Carrier Dome.
At the top of my pad of paper I carried with me, I kept a running tally of “Bad Scoop Jardine Shots” between both games. I expected to damn near fill up half the width of the page. Instead I was only able to strike three tally marks.
Once the embodiment of an enigma, Jardine has become the consummate point guard for a national title contending team.
As a reward for the leaps and bounds at which he has matured on the court this season, The Syracuse Post-Standard’s Donna Ditota penned an excellent piece on the senior, profiling Jardine’s upbringing and his college basketball career, which ultimately celebrates the ups, downs and his final year in school.
He has had his share of Syracuse critics, fans who contend he turns the ball over too much or assumes too much late-game responsibility. But Jardine sits sixth on the Orange career assist chart with 588. In his past three seasons at SU, he accumulated 502 assists and 229 turnovers. This year, he has 146 assists, compared to 62 turnovers.
“He’s not afraid to play. He’s not afraid to make plays. And you have to be that way,” [Jim] Boeheim said. “It’s easy not to turn the ball over if you don’t make any plays. Anybody can do that. He’s made plays and his assist-turnover ratio for the past two years has been great. He makes good decisions and he makes hard plays.”
Along with the majority of central New York, I’ve been a harsh critic of Jardine’s play in the past. Throughout his career, there’s been times where it’s actually been too easy to poke fun at the kid. But the fact is this: Jardine is a player whose greatest strength can be his greatest weakness.
He’s incredibly confident. Nothing frightens him except God, as written by Ditota, and life growing up watching those closest to him deal drugs prepared him for dealing and shrugging off failure on the basketball court.
You’ve heard that from a number of athletes before, but for some reason it resonates a bit more when you hear it about Jardine.
Now, after a lot of great games followed-up by games highlighted by puzzling decision-making, Jardine’s head coach, the third most winningest coach in Division I history, is calling Jardine the most improved player he’s ever seen come through his storied program.
Regardless of what he does at the next level, I suspect the Syracuse community will always remember Scoop.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t screw it all up in March.
Follow Nick Fasulo on Twitter @billyedelinSBN.