One of the biggest questions coming into the season for Syracuse was whether such a deep and talented team could focus on a common goal. Would ten guys with enough talent to start for almost any team in the country put individual numbers aside for the purpose of winning? The #3 Orange is 8-0 and taking on a solid Marshall team tonight, and attitude has been the last thing Jim Boeheim has had to worry about.
Listening to the coach after SU’s first prime time win of the season against Florida, it sounds like a lot of the credit for that goes to the Orange’s on-court leader, Scoop Jardine.
“I think the thing with Scoop that I’d like to address is the New York City game. Dion [Waiters] and Brandon were playing great and we left them in during the second half. Scoop cheered the whole time, they played great, and we won both nights. Scoop never said anything to me, he never even came to see me, and he came to practice and worked. We had him out in the second half and he didn’t get up on a shooter so we went back with him and he won the game, simple as that.”
It’s hard to imagine many fifth-year seniors with Scoop’s resume having such a positive reaction to riding pine down the stretch at the world’s most famous arena. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Scoop himself being okay with a secondary role. But in his last go round in Orange, Scoop is solely focused on the ultimate team goal.
“That’s what it’s all about when you are trying to win a championship. You are going to need guys like that. There are going to be games where I am not playing good and Coach needs to sit me and it wasn’t that I was playing bad in New York but he sat me and I would never go against his decision.”
As Julius Campbell once reminded us in Remember the Titans, attitude reflects leadership, and Scoop’s unselfish play has had a trickle down effect on the rest of the locker room. Three standout guards realize only two of them can play at once and that The Per’fesser will ride the hot hand. CJ Fair has gladly accepted his role as an energy guy. The Orange is sharing the ball on offense, with six players averaging between 8 and 15 points, and rank 13th in the nation in assists per game. As the leader, that’s just the type of example Scoop is trying to set.
“When you are trying to win championships, like we are doing here, we are going to need guys that make sacrifices and leave egos at the door. If I can do it, I’ve been here five years, anyone can do it and that is one of the things I have done as a leader. Coach said it and congratulated me on it but it’s going to be for everybody and that’s how it is.”
It may sound simple, but it’s not an easy concept for talented teams to buy into. For evidence look no further than last year’s Orange, or this season in Storrs, where the Huskies seem to be struggling to decide who the new number one guy is, and is 140th in the nation in assists.
Scoop told us the Orange have the blueprint to the national championship. A major part of that blueprint is a team-first attitude, and through the first eight games, they have followed that blueprint perfectly.
Posted: Steve Niekam