In what ended up being the final game of his Syracuse career, Scoop Jardine did not play for much of the final four minutes. The move forced coach Jim Boeheim to explain himself in the postgame press conference.
“Dion Waiters has been our best offensive player this year. Brandon Triche had two threes in a row,” he explained. “He hasn’t played in the last seven, eight, ten minutes of several games this year. It’s fairly, absolutely normal.”
Jardine had been a bright spot in a Syracuse offense that had its share of struggles on Saturday night, a night plagued also by foul trouble (which sparked a controversy in itself).
Boeheim calls Jardine’s time on the bench “normal,” but it raised some questions.
With Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters going a combined 6-for-19 from the floor, Jardine has been a catalyst in transition all season, but was, instead, sitting on the bench.
The most difficult part, perhaps, is the fact that this was the final game for these Syracuse seniors, Jardine and Joseph included.
Jardine’s voice was reportedly shaky and his eyes glossy with tears as he spoke plainly after the game.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s real tough knowing that my career is over and that I won’t play with these guys again.”
No one can tell how far Syracuse could have gone, had Fab Melo been academically eligible, but to ponder that has little value. Even without the Brazilian center, the Orange were an Elite Eight team.
So the focus moves to next year, when the roster will look much different than it does this season.
Jardine and Joseph will graduate. Waiters is likely to leave for the NBA draft. Melo could enter early, as well.
Of course, the Orange are reloading on the recruiting trail, but for Joseph and Jardine, the sting from this game may time some time to pass.