PITTSBURGH — In 36 years of coaching basketball at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim has come to terms with what differentiates his teams from being great, good and average.
And it all starts with one position.
“I haven’t coached a lot of teams that didn’t have a good point guard,” Boeheim said. “You could have a good small forward, a good power forward and a good center … but you won’t win without a good point guard, unless your shooting guard is Michael Jordan.”
Boeheim has a dandy this year.
Syracuse is led by 6-foot-2 senior point guard Scoop Jardine, a second-team All-Big East selection. Jardine, a Cousy Award finalist, averages 8.6 points and 4.9 assists.
“Scoop makes an impact not just because he scores, but because he makes other things happen on offense,” Boeheim said.
Jardine — a Philadelphia native whose real name is Antonio — picked up his nickname from his grandmother when he was just an infant because she thought the shape of his head resembled a scoop of ice cream.
“My head was crazy-shaped, like I had to wear a hat outside for the first year of my life,” Jardine said, smiling. “Better now, though.”
And it’s Jardine who makes Syracuse better in almost every way — probably the best example being his dedication to learning about his teammates inside and out. Jardine doesn’t just watch video of himself or his opponents. He also breaks down his teammates’ play.
“I watch an insane amount of film, I watch it on all of my guys to figure out who is best at doing what,” Jardine said. “I want to know what all my guys are doing.”
He’s also no stranger to playing on the big stage. Saturday’s contest against Kansas State is his seventh NCAA Tournament game.
“I’ve played in this tournament ... I know what to expect,” Jardine said. “I know how to win games.”
During Thursday’s second-round win over North Carolina-Asheville, Jardine joked about how the almost 19,000 in attendance booing the Orange didn’t really affect him.
“I thought they were just ‘Scooping,’ especially when I was shooting free throws,” said Jardine, referencing a popular Syracuse chant that sounds like booing. “I could still hear my dad screaming for me, so they couldn’t have been booing that loud.”
And Jardine and fellow senior Kris Joseph, another All-Big East pick, don’t want today’s game to be their final one together.
“Scoop and I understand what it takes to keep moving on,” Joseph said. “We’re going to go out and bring it for 40 minutes against Kansas State.”