The crazy thing was, it was working.
Despite having Rick Jackson on the bench in foul trouble for a good chunk of the second half, the Orange seemed to be weathering the storm. It was supposed to be the grand fear for Syracuse fans...how would we perform if we didn't have Rick keeping things in check? Improbably, it looked like we'd be okay.
And then we weren't.
The Hoyas held Syracuse to just one point in the game’s four final minutes and they didn’t even make a field goal after the 6:37 mark. No surprise that thy ended up losing 64-56 to Georgetown then.
"After the game, I was talking to Kris (Joseph) and I said ‘I just want to see what happened’,’’ Syracuse guard Brandon Triche said. "It happened so fast.’’
"You always want to protect your homecourt and we’ve failed to do that three times in a row,’’ said Joseph. "It doesn’t happen much here in Syracuse.’’
That's right. Three-straight home losses for the Orange. And loss No. 5 in seven games. Less than good.
Rick Jackson has been the rock for this team all season and we've been particularly lucky that this is the first time we've really had to deal with having him in foul trouble. The Hoyas took a play out of the Duke playbook and flopped like flopping was the coolest thing one could do. All of a sudden, Rick had four fouls with 14 minutes, 40 seconds to play.
"It was painful," he said. "You’re team is out there battling back and forth. And you just gotta watch and you gotta wait for Coach to call you in there. And when you do get in there, you don’t want to commit a silly foul and be right back on the bench. It’s hard."
Thankfully Baye Moussa Keita (5 blocks) and C.J. Fair (12 points) picked up a lot of slack but the damage was done. Jackson's mental flow was thrown off and the Orange suffered in the rebounding department, losing the battle 34-28.
The Hoyas were also ready for Kris Joseph, who drew three offensive charges in the game. The refs were at-best dubious and at-worst atrocious, so that factors in. But Joseph should have picked up on this sooner. He finished with 14 to lead the Orange.
Georgetown hit some shot, especially making three-pointers when they had to. But it was the disappearance of the Syracuse offense at critical times that did it in. Patience. Quite frankly, the Orange lack patience at critical moments. And a lot of it comes back to Scoop Jardine.
Look, I like Scoop. He's an awesome guy. And I know it's hard to do what he does. And I know he's worked hard, so hard to get to where he is. And I know he's going to tweet something about "not judging until you walk in someone else's shoes" tomorrow and I'll feel bad. But the simple fact is that I don't know a reason Scoop Jardine should be in the game with less than four minutes left when it's close. He is too much of a liability and he yet to prove that he knows how to run an offense when it matters most.
I said on Twitter tonight that he's our Brett Favre. He'll make big plays and he'll do great things but he'll also tear your heart out with an unforgivable mistake when it matters. Scoop is a gunslinger out there and he remains convinced he is "the guy" despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.
I don't care if he's a veteran. That's irrelevant. If we'd be better off with Triche running point and Waiters or Fair at the 2, then that should be our play. I don't know how Boeheim's head hasn't exploded yet. And I know that Scoop is frustrated because I keep seeing him walk towards the bench at some point late in a game with his hands on his head, utterly confused and disturbed by what's occurred. The problem is, he keeps doing it. Over. And over. And over. There is no learning process.
Not that I trust Waiters that much more. They're both part of this epidemic of shoot-first-ask-questions-later syndrome that seems to take over. On so many plays, a shooter decides he's going to take a shot. Then he starts to make a move to the basket. At that point, he either has the shot or he doesn't. If he doesn't, a smart shooter finds the second option. Our guys disregard the second option and stick with the shot even if there are three guys converging on them. Time and time again. It's selfish and it's costing this team points, momentum and wins.
It was Georgetown's first victory inside the Carrier Dome since 2002. It was also our second-straight loss to the Hoyas. It doesn't get any easier from here. Next game is a road swing to Louisville where we don't fare too well. From there it's West Virginia, Rutgers, Villanova, Georgetown and DePaul.
Three of those games are toss-ups and of the other two, Rutgers doesn't look as winnable today as it did yesterday. To avoid a massive late-season letdown, the Orange still need to figure a lot of issues out. Let's do it already.