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Wednesday / February 8.
  • Scoop Must Accept New Role For ‘Cuse to Succeed

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    As it turns out, the key to Syracuse making another Final Four run may have less to do with Fab Melo’s conditioning or Dion Waiters’s maturity than it does with whether Scoop Jardine can accept a new role.

    For the second time in three nights, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim closed out a victory behind the hot hand of the sophomore Waiters at the point instead of the senior Jardine. Scoop watched from the bench for the final 7 minutes, 51 seconds of No. 5 Syracuse’s 69-63 victory over Stanford in the title game of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Tip Off Classic at MSG.

    Waiters ran alongside Melo, Kris Joseph, C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche as Syracuse (6-0) transformed a 55-47 deficit with 6:47 remaining into a 61-60 lead with less than three minutes left.

    That was the same five Boeheim used Wednesday night when Waiters scored all 11 of his points in the second half as Syracuse downed Virginia Tech, 69-58, in the semifinal.

    “That’s our best offensive lineup right now,” Boeheim said. “They’re pretty good on defense, too.”

    Jardine is a veteran and he said all the right things during this tournament.

    After Wednesday’s game, he told me that he was most proud of having no turnovers in the Tech game, even as he managed just 2 points and 4 assists in 20 minutes while Waiters scored 11 points and dished 4 dimes in 25 minutes.

    On Friday, Jardine played more minutes (27 to 24) and scored more points (14 to 10) than Waiters, including two huge second-half 3-pointers that kept Syracuse in the game.

    But he also had more turnovers (6 to 3) and the same number of assists (3).

    When Jardine was asked about his situation after the game, Boeheim appeared ready to step in and answer the question, but Jardine said, “I got this, Coach.”

    The senior then leaned toward the microphone and said, “Just win.’’

    Said Boeheim: “Scoop played real good tonight, really well. (He) really did a good job. And that’s important. We need him to play well for us to be effective.’’

    Look, at this point everyone can see that Waiters has the higher upside than Jardine.

    “Scoop is a good player,” Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said Wednesday. “I think this other guy has a chance to be a great player. Scoop is a good player who’s had a great career. This guy’s got a chance to be really special. If he shoots the ball the way he did [against Virginia Tech], and he’s aggressive coming off screens…I mean, that guy has got a chance to be really special. He’s got kind of an NBA guard’s game.”

    A year ago, Boeheim couldn’t trust Waiters and the two nearly parted ways over the summer.

    “Last year he had to solely rely on Scoop and Triche and if they weren’t playing to the top of their game, there were really no other answers,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, who called the game, told SNY.tv.

    “Now he’s got another answer. I wouldn’t even say it’s a problem. It’s a great situation to have, that he’s got the steadiness of Triche, the guts of Scoop Jardine to take big shots and the maturity of Dion Waiters becoming a really good guard on both ends of the floor.”

    You can never have enough quality guards in basketball — and at this point Syracuse is so loaded that stud freshman Michael Carter-Williams played just 2 minutes against Stanford — and didn’t score.

    “This team is so deep that Michael Carter-Williams would be starting on at least half of the teams in the Big East and he’s just going to have to be patient a year,” Fraschilla said.

    He added: “These three guys [Triche, Jardine and Waiters] are going to be a terrific three-man rotation in the Big East. All three of those guys can play the point and all three of them can score. And they’re all relatively good defenders.”

    So if Jardine can accept his new role, Waiters’s emergence — and Boeheim’s newfound faith in him — should be great news for the Orange going forward.



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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.