There are numerous questions that Jim Boeheim will have to answer as the season comes to fruition, but the most important one may be what to do with Scoop Jardine.
Last season was one that saw extreme highs and lows for Scoop. For the first time he was a starter for the Orange, raising his playing time to just over 32 minutes per game. During the 2010-11 season, Scoop averaged 12.5 points, 5.9 assists and 2.9 turnovers per game. He was one of the Big East leaders in assists, but his problem was that his basketball IQ seemed to drop dramatically at the worst times.
It seemed that you could book Scoop for a bad turnover or a poor shot at the end of any close game. Also, Scoop, along with Dion Waiters, seemed to have a problem with Brandon Triche during the season. These issues caused a lot of the Orange faithful to wish that he would have left after last season (probably to play in Europe), but he decided to come back.
So what can Boeheim do with Jardine?
The easiest answer is to take Scoop out of the starting lineup, keep Triche as the one or two guard and use another player at the position that Triche isn’t occupying. Unfortunately, Triche isn’t without his own issues.
During the last season Triche averaged 11.1 points per game, but his three-point percentage was just .333. Those that have watched Brandon play know that he is a better shooter than his statistics show.
The problem with Brandon seems to be a lack of confidence. During the last season I heard a caller on Brent Axe’s radio show say “Scoop thinks that he is better than he is, while Triche doesn’t know how good he actually is.”
This may be the best assessment I have heard about the two Orange guards.
If Brandon misses his first few shots of a game, you can see him lose confidence to the point that his defense may suffer, and he becomes simply a passer on the offensive end.
Brandon Triche is too much of an offensive threat to become so timid. I don’t know if there is any solution to his confidence problems, but if he ever figures it out, he will be a great player. Triche is a two-year starter, so it seems appropriate to keep him in that role.
Boeheim needs to figure out what to do with Scoop’s old starting role. He needs to decide whether to give the job to Dion Waiters or incoming freshman Michael-Carter Williams.
The Orange fans watched as Dion Waiters made a fool of himself on multiple occasions last season. The most moronic move he made was cussing out Boeheim in the middle of a game. He didn’t play in the next game but Boeheim insisted that the incident wasn’t the reason for the freshman sitting out.
Early in the offseason it appeared that Waiters would transfer, but awhile later he let his twitter followers know that he would be back.
Dion seems prone to the same mistakes Scoop (his cousin) makes.
In 2010-11, he averaged 6.3 points per game and had a shooting percentage of .386. He needs to realize that his game is driving to the hoop rather than taking long jump shots.
The one hope for Waiters is that he was a freshman last season, so it is possible that he has grown as a player and as a person. If he hasn’t, he shouldn’t be the starter.
While Waiters showed flashes of greatness last season, there is a new challenger. Michael-Carter Williams is a 6’5” shooting guard from Massachusetts. The incoming freshman was rated No. 20 in ESPNU’s top 100 recruits for 2011.
Williams was a McDonald’s All-American, who shows great scoring potential. He is a three-point shooter that has been developing into a point guard. If he can live up to expectations, then he could become a great asset for Syracuse.
Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to the National Championship in 2003 as a freshman, and I think that Michael-Carter Williams could lead the Orange to a similar fate. Boeheim’s best option for a starting backcourt should be Williams and Triche. Waiters and Jardine can come off of the bench to provide ‘Cuse with a boost whenever necessary.
The 2011-12 Syracuse Orange have a lot of talent and could end up being a Final Four team. In order to live up to that potential, Jim Boeheim will have to make some difficult decisions. The one thing we know about Boeheim is that he doesn’t shy away from anything, which is exactly what this team needs.