You now how I know it's Syracuse basketball season? When I head on over to OrangeHoops and Cuse Country and see that they've awoken from the summer/fall hibernation to rejoin us in the land of the living. Welcome back, gents. Now get to work...
(Speaking of, OrangeHoops already has a nice piece up on freshmen big men at SU. Gives you some good perspective on Fab Melo's potential)
Kris Joseph. Scoop Jardine. Fab Melo. Dion Waiters. Brandon Triche. Ask someone to name the player or players they expect to power the Orange this season and there's a good chance one of those aforementioned five will be among them. Less likely (at least for the uninformed) is the name Rick Jackson. Syracuse's senior big man will be marking his second season as a starter and his lone as the unquestioned leader of the Orange frontcourt.
Cuse Country says people been sleepin’ on Rick Jackson since 2007, and people still sleepin’ on Rick Jackson.
In my eyes Rick Jackson is the key to the season. You read it here first, and I’ll stick with this all the way through. And the good news is, he’s also a rock of reliability and guaranteed performance for a team in the midst of lots of transition and uncertainty. SU is overflowing with talent, but there are questions up and down the lineup as to how everyone is going to fit into their new roles, whether or not guys will be able to step it up, how freshmen will integrate and perform…but there is one spot where there are simply no questions to ask — and that’s at power forward. Because that’s where Ricky roams, and that spot is on lockdown.
Not too shabby for a guy who many considered a "throw-in" when he and Scoop Jardine committed to SU together.
Speaking of Scoop, when you think about it, it's kind of amazing we're sitting here talking about him as one of the leaders of the Syracuse Orange right now. A junior in terms of eligibility, there's been more than one occasion since he arrived at SU that Scoop almost got Scooped right out our lives forever. To say that his decision-making process has improved over the last four years is an understatement of epic proportions.
Scoop was never a Devendorf-esque bad boy, nor was he one for off-court rants and bursts of emotional distress like Mookie Jones or Paul Harris. Scoop's issue was, for a long time, just making silly decisions.
Instance No. 1 - Before Scoop even got to Syracuse, he was quite the trouble-maker. Jardine "got kicked out of three schools" before attending Neumann-Goretti in South Philadelphia. That's where he met a lanky 6'9" forward named Ricky Jackson. As freshman, the two vowed to go to the same college together. To his credit, Scoop only listened to schools that also showed interest in Rick.
Instance No. 2 - Hey, remember CheesesteakGate? For newish readers of the site, I feel sorry for you. You missed out on a lot of great stuff. The Quest For Toronto. Gregisms. And CheesesteakGate. (Actually, all three of things were miserable, so I guess you actually lucked out).
The incident in question...Scoop, his much-older cousin and two ladyfriends find an SU meal card laying around and use it to purchase copious amounts of food, headlined by the infamous cheesesteaks. When the card-owner reports his card missing, campus security tracks the order back to Scoop and all hell breaks loose. Scoop barely keeps his spot on the team and place at the university, though his cousin is persona non grata at SU moving forward.
Instance No. 3 - Syracuse went to the Sweet Sixteen in 2009, but that season was almost lost before it even began. In August, Scoop, Rick and Jonny Flynn were accused of sexual assault by a fellow female student. The trio went before a grand jury, whom decided not to prosecute. That still meant the iffy SU Judicial Board held the careers of the tree players in their hands. Scoop made some more questionable decisions during the hearing though in the end they were lucky enough to walk away from the entire thing with community service and probation.
Since then, Scoop not only kept his nose clean but he's also shed the baby-weight and emerged as a legitimate star for the Orange. He looks back on his "immature" days in an article on Syracuse.com today.
"Immature. So immature,’’ Jardine, now in his fourth year at SU, said in a recent interview. "So immature that I got myself into some trouble. I saw how you can make one mistake and everything can go down the drain.
"That humbled me really fast.’’
Great piece that talks at length with Scoop but also with his father. There's also a bit at the end about how Scoop is now a mentor to his younger cousin and SU guard Dion Waiters. The valuable lessons of Scoop's tenure at SU should serve Waiters, and all future Orangemen, well.
"I’m teaching him to be a college student,’’ Jardine said. "It’s great to be a role model to someone with that much talent and I can help him to where he wants to be.’’
"Don’t take nothing for granted,’’ he said, "because it could be gone tomorrow with one bad decision.’’