Wooden Watch and Jardine’s Climb On SU’s Assist List
This week, the early watch list for the Wooden Award was released, and fortunate fans that we are, Syracuse’s two senior leaders were included with the mix. Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I don’t adjust expectations based on these lists. I know I’ve brought this up before, but one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen written about an SU player came along this time last season, when Brandon Triche was named to the Wooden watch list. It doesn’t mean I don’t like him or don’t think he’s a good player, just that it was astonishing to see him in that kind of company. As a freshman, Triche played slightly more than half of the available minutes as a prototypical complementary guard (even though he started the entire season) and was never a high priority in Jim Boeheim’s plans from a scoring standpoint. He may have disappointed last season, but I feel that way because his shooting efficiency went down and he flat-out disappeared at times, not because a body of voters felt particularly frisky last October.
This doesn’t mean I hate all awards, either. The Wooden Preseason Watch List does have some meaning to the casual fan. If you only follow one team closely and turn your attention to other things throughout the offseason, it’s a nice way to get acquainted with the top tier of players around the country as they get ready for the upcoming season. There tend to be a few outliers, and some are whittled out early while surprises enter the fray, but generally speaking, it serves a purpose.
Since we talked about Kris Joseph last week on the heels of the Blue Ribbon’s Preseason All-American picks being released, today is a convenient time to talk a little bit about Scoop Jardine. I tweeted this yesterday, and I remember stumbling across it even earlier, but it continues to fascinate me that with 211 assists this season, Scoop would catapult himself into fourth place on Syracuse’s all-time dishes list. For those of you wondering, Jardine totaled 205 assists his junior year, so 211 assists in 2010-11, or right around six per game in a 35-game season, is by no means unreachable.
Scoop’s climb is surprising to me because among the current top five (Sherman Douglas, Jason Hart, Gerry McNamara, Pearl Washington and Adrian Autry), four of them started every game they played – Douglas didn’t start a single game his freshman year, which makes his standing atop the list all the more impressive. Jardine, of course, sat behind Jonny Flynn his freshman year, but started ten games, and redshirted the next season while recovering from an injury. Even though Scoop led the Big East in assists last season, he’s more renowned for his streakiness in high-leverage situations, so his passing abilities don’t rush to the front of my mind when I hear him referenced.
Does he get to that monumental spot? That depends. Since recovering from the shin injury sustained in his freshman year, Jardine has played with a clean bill of health, a testament to his durability. He absorbed the lion’s share of minutes at the point guard spot last season and over the summer shed some weight in anticipation of another boatload of playing time. Two things may limit that hunt for fourth on the assists list, though: The absence of a scoring threat as reliable as Rick Jackson was and the arrival of Michael Carter-Williams. Perhaps Kris Joseph makes that leap we’re all waiting for him to make or Fab Melo shows a pulse down low, but that will take some time to bear out. Additionally, with Michael Carter-Williams on the bench, there is another point guard ready if Jardine’s exploits in the backcourt become too intense for Boeheim to bear. While Triche has filled in at point guard in the past and can do so capably, I really believe that Boeheim is set on keeping him as a shooting guard and opting to give the heir-apparent Carter-Williams some run when Jardine needs to sit.
Standing on all-time lists isn’t the end-all be-all, obviously, but it’s one of the many things that will make Scoop Jardine worth watching this season.