Syracuse Basketball: Scoop Jardine's Struggles Are Hurting the Team

Mike MuellerContributor IIJanuary 24, 2011

Scoop Jardine scored just two points against Villanova on Saturday
Scoop Jardine scored just two points against Villanova on SaturdayJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The pollsters are apparently still high on Syracuse despite them losing both games last week to Pittsburgh and Villanova.

The Orange (18-2) are ranked ninth in the AP and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this week, but have a lot of work to do before Tuesday’s game at home against Seton Hall.

After rattling off 18 wins to start the season, Syracuse is starting to struggle against the elite teams in the Big East, and a lot of that has to do with the recent play of junior point guard Scoop Jardine.

Jardine has played two awful games for the Orange, and it’s cost them in the win column.

He shot a combined 5-for-21 against ‘Nova and Pitt and averaged just seven points and three assists. If Syracuse is going to be a contender in the Big East, those numbers need to change.

Jardine’s decision making is spotty at best, which is the exact word you can use to describe his jump shot. Despite what Jardine and some Syracuse fans might think, he is not a good shooter.

Jardine is streaky at best and can score in bunches when he’s on. Right now he’s off, and head coach Jim Boeheim should seriously consider bringing him off the bench, a role he excelled in last season.

Some guys are just not made to be starters, and Jardine fits that mold. He thrived in his role coming off the bench and provided a nice spark to the offense when used sparingly last season.

Jardine averaged 22 minutes a game during the 2009-2010 season with nine points and four assists. He shot close to 49 percent from the field and 38 percent from behind the arc.

This season, Jardine got off to a hot start, but is starting to level off. He is averaging 13 points and six assists per game, but his field goal (42) and three-point (32) shooting percentages are both way down from last year.

Surprisingly, Jardine is only averaging three turnovers a game, although during the games it seems like a lot more.

The job of your point guard is to make the rest of the team better. Jardine simply doesn’t do that. He tries to make himself better, and that’s about it. He does not involve his teammates enough, especially Rick Jackson, who has had to work for every bit of his 13 double-doubles.

Jackson is one of the dominant forwards in the Big East. He’s averaging 13 points and 12 boards this season on just over 10 shots per game. Jackson has earned more touches and shots in the offense, and that’s the point guard’s job to make that happen.

Jardine is a good player, but he is only good in spurts. He takes horrible shots early in the shot clock and kills runs with his forced shots that lead to layups on the other end.

Jardine has heaved it up 209 times this season, and almost half of those have been from behind the arc (91). That’s fine if you are a pure shooter like Andy Rautins, but Jardine is a slasher who does his best work going towards the basket.

Boeheim has forgotten more about basketball than I will probably ever know, but he clearly sees Jardine’s deficiencies. Jardine played just 22 minutes against Villanova and was taken out during a late run by the Orange at the end of the game.

My opinion—move Jardine back to the bench and put Brandon Triche at point. Bring Jardine in for a spark and use him sparingly. He is not an everyday point guard, and he never will be.

Syracuse needs to reemphasize the importance of starting from the inside out and let Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph be the primary scorers. The Orange simply won’t win with Jardine leading the charge.