CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20: Scoop Jardine #11 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after turning the ball over late in the game against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the third of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
I always feared the day that Syracuse Basketball players would be featured prominently on truTV. Turns out my fears were for good reason, though under different circumstances than initially-thought.
So we begin by stating the obvious, or what I hope is the obvious. No matter how badly you feel right now, no matter how frustrated or disappointed or angry you are, every player on that team feels 100x worse than you. As much as it sucks that Syracuse Basketball didn't mean your expectations, I assure you that a team that spent the season talking about Unfinished Business feels as though they did not meet their own.
With that said, Sunday's 66-62 loss to Marquette in the third round of the NCAA Tournament means this year ends with disappointment. It ends, ironically, with Syracuse fans and players feeling as though there is unfinished business left on the court. I suppose the good news is they can just re-use 2010-2011's posters and just put Rakeem Christmas' face on Rick Jackson's to keep it fresh.
Back in November, you might have said to yourself that an eight-loss season and Round of 32 advancement would be sufficient to call this year a success. Of course, expectations are fluid. And by the time March rolled around and the Orange received a double-bye in the Big East Tournament, expectations had changed. We can quibble over the specifics but losing to an eleven seed as a three seed and falling short of the Sweet Sixteen does not meet our criteria.
I called out Scoop Jardine in the title of this post though I would not say we lost strictly because of him. Commenter I Miss DIAP hits the nail on the head by saying the Orange lost this game because of their own mistakes. Not just Scoop's but the mistakes that many of the players made throughout the game. Especially late in the 2nd half.
As for Scoop, I mean, what can I say that you don't already know. If Vegas allowed us to put down $100 to things like, "If Syracuse is losing a close game with seconds to go, Scoop Jardine will take the ball up-court, rush the play, refuse to settle down and launch an off-balance three-pointer with multiple players in his face regardless of where his teammates are," we'd all be thousandaires right now.
Brett Favre Scoop Jardine is what he is, you know this, I know this, I written it a hundred times, you've read it a hundred times and here we are. Scoop is supposed to be the leader of this team on the floor. He's supposed to be the guy with the ball in his hand when we need a big play. And that means when the game and the season are on the line, we all know that Scoop is going to make a selfish, unwise play. His high school coach has said he was like this back then and he didn't evolve one iota all season in this sense. Time and time again. He's improved his stamina, his work ethic, his physique and his shot but he has not improved the mental game when it matters most. What do we make of this knowing he's coming back for another season? Where do we go from here? I'm afraid to know.
18 turnovers. Eighteen. That's the 2nd-most in one game all year (20, twice). Brandon's bad inbound pass. Scoop's lack of awareness not to "tip-toe" the half-court line (which was the real reason the refs called back-court). Fab's bad passes. 2-on-1 fastbreaks where the player with the ball (usually Scoop or Triche) doesn't bother looking for the pass and forces the bad layup (a staple of the '10-'11 season). Charge after charge after charge. You can argue that sometimes the refs were a little weak but how many times have the Orange committed the same mistakes over and over this year, seemingly unable to learn from them? Triche's wanton disregard in the lane, throwing himself to opponents. Kris Joseph who should have learned by now. I don't know about you but its frustrating to see the season end thanks to the same, correctable mistakes that have been there all year.
There's some poetic about the fact that Dion Waiters led the Orange in scoring on the night (18). It's a season-high for the freshman and a sign of good things ahead for him. But it's also a terrible sign for the current leaders of this team. Next year we're expecting Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine to carry the scoring load. At least in theory. If they remain as erratic as they've been this year in their scoring, that's a huge concern. Maybe Rob Murphy was right when he said earlier this week that the expectations or Kris Joseph have been all wrong. He's a contributor but not a scoring leader. And so we look to the future.
As for Rick Jackson, it's a shame that a guy with such a dominant season goes out like this. He looked like a beast against Indiana State in the first game. Then again, the Indiana State players looked like twelve-year-olds next to him. Jackson's legacy will be of an okay recruit who turned himself into a stud. But it will also have the footnote that his team's fell short too-early in the NCAA Tournament when he was in the middle. Fair? Unfair? Remains to be seen.
If there's some good to come out of this game, it's that Buzz Williams will almost certainly be coaching somewhere else next year. Probably Oklahoma. So whatever hold he has over Syracuse at the moment, he'll be gone and things can go back to normal. So in a way, we really screwed over Marquette by losing twice to them. Sorry bout that, Goldies.
But hey, Syracuse-Marquette means something now. It's no UConn rivalry, but it's something. They officially feel like a Big East rival now.
I haven't watched the Boeheim press conference yet but I'm going to assume no one asked him about his head-to-head record with Buzz in the last year. At least I hope not. We don't need to put poor John Beilein through all that again.
And so, the season ends. We had a lot of wins, had some major successes and great high-points. None of that will be forgotten and over time we'll regain the perspective to appreciate them. But for now, this stings. There were no guarantees, but most of us expected to at least get to Newark. Make that the last time we ever feel bad about not being to go to Newark.
- Syracuse's basketball season ends with NCAA tournament loss to Marquette...Mike Waters
- This NCAA Tournament game had grit, sure, but thanks to turnovers not a Syracuse win...Bud Poliquin
- Dion Waiters electrifies the Q with 18 Syracuse points...Donna Ditota
- Marquette wins the free-throw battle to beat Syracuse...Mike Waters
- Miscommunication leads to costly backcourt violation in Syracuse's loss to Marquette...Mike Waters
- Brandon's bruised tailbone, plus Baye's cough and DJO's dagger...Donna Ditota
- Turnovers doom Syracuse as Marquette gives Orange early boot from NCAA Tournament...Daily Orange
- Jardine's mistakes prove costly in frustrating loss to Golden Eagles...Daily Orange
- Syracuse-Marquette postgame audio...The Juice Online
- What went wrong...Cuse Country
- Syracuse Basketball Score And Reaction: Rick Jackson's Swan Song Ends With Sloppy Note...SB Nation NY
- Coach Waxes Poetic After Upset of Syracuse...New York Times
- Rapid reaction: Marquette 66, Syracuse 62...ESPN
- Williams still buzzing over Marquette's upset of Syracuse...SI.com
- How Sweet It Is! Marquette 66, Syracuse 62...Anonymous Eagle