"Live by the Scoop, die by the Scoop" was a popular Twitter phrase uttered by Syracuse fans since controversial point guard Scoop Jardine took the position for Jim Boeheim's Orange. The Syracuse Post Standard went a step further with their "Love Him or Hate Him" basketball cover story back in the preseason.
Regardless of what he has (or hasn't) done in the past, what Scoop Jardine has done so far this season has been instrumental to the elite status of Syracuse.
Back on media day, Scoop was championing the phrase "Leave our egos at the door" and is still sticking with this mantra. For some fans, this was tough to believe from a guy who wears a "Team Jardine" shirt to warmups every game.
Regardless, what he does on the court has been about as unselfish as it gets, and it has paid dividends for the Orange. The fifth-year senior's minutes are down to about 23 per game, as opposed to the 32 minutes he saw last season.
He averages four fewer points per game (12 to 8) with four fewer shots, but consequently he has lowered his turnovers and raised his overall field-goal percentage.
What has really helped the Orange is Scoop's ability to read the court and make the smart play when it matters most.
To the first point, Jardine's maturation with court vision is nothing short of remarkable. He always finds a player open with a better shot at a play, whether it be in the perimeter or while he drives to the hoop. His communication with his cousin Dion has helped the sophomore transition from his rocky freshman campaign to a potentially elite year.
To the second point, Scoop seems to have toned his aggressive play into a killer instinct that has helped the Orange at key points this season. After the Florida contest, Jim Boeheim was not shy in saying that Jardine was the reason the Orange won.
Against Pittsburgh, Jardine registered a season-high 37 minutes with 10 assists to help the Orange escape a relentless Panthers attack. Most recently, against West Virginia, Scoop's patience with the ball found Brandon Triche late for an open look and shot that gave Syracuse the win.
Going one more step, Scoop's consistency (never thought those words would be true) are a huge reason the Orange would match up so well against Kentucky.
As Jay Bilas has taken to mentioning at every opportunity, the Kentucky guards are growing but still young. Both Marquis Teague and Deron Lamb are talented, but both lack the maturation that John Wall possessed. Scoop's maturity is a huge reason the Orange could take the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament.
So love him, hate him, live by him or die by him, Scoop Jardine will always be a polarizing player. Except this season, it has become much harder to find his critics during Syracuse's 22-1 start.
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