|Scoop reintroduced himself to his hometown tonight, leading the Orange to a big win|
In a game only a mother or an SU fan could love, the Syracuse Orange defeated the Villanova Wildcats and three incompetent refs in Philadelphia tonight, winning 69-64. The game was marred by some brutally inconsistent officiating, horrible shooting from Villanova and far too many turnovers from Syracuse.
However, the Orange made some key plays on offense down the stretch and when SU really needed to prevent Villanova from getting a clean look at a three, the 2-3 zone forced a turnover to seal the game. It was an important win for the Orange as the team jockeys for post-season seeding and happens to be their third W in a row. While its too soon to say SU has righted the ship after 6 losses in 8 games, this much is clear -- in an overall down year for college basketball, anything is possible in the post-season.
Ultimately I don't think the Orange are good enough on offense to make a lot of noise in the tournament -- but at the same time this team has shown enough resilence and moxie that a deep run wouldn't surprise anyone.
Scoop Jardine: The mercurial point guard returned home to Philly and played a typical Scoop game - moments of brilliance mixed in with some bad turnovers and borderline insane decisions. However, with the offense stalled at times, Scoop stepped up and knocked down big shots. He also found Rick Jackson for some easy dunks. SU doesn't win this game without his 20 points. We might have to rename Scoop Mr. Excitement.
Rick Jackson: He was better than Villanova's big men and tonight his teammates helped him take advantage of that fact. There's no better story this season than the transformation of Rick Jackson from a serviceable big man to a dominant one. I love watching him fight for offensive rebounds because even when he doesn't haul the ball in he's making the opposition work. Rick wears people out.
Kris Joseph: Not the best performance from Kris. Seven points, eight rebounds, some lackluster defense and fouling out. The fact that the Orange won when he struggled, speaks well of the rest of the team. I'm not sure what's going on with Joseph, but he's a better player than he's been in the second half of the season.
Brandon Triche: He didn't shoot it very well, but he made a huge 3 when it counted. Mark my words, he's a 15 ppg guy next year.
Baye Moussa Keita: A quiet game for Baye - which makes him getting a technical technical foul for no reason at the end of the first half all the more ironic.
Dion Waiters: It looks like a trip home and some early foul trouble for his cousin was the medicine for what was ailing Mr. Waiters. His two free throws with 14 seconds left secured a needed 3 point lead. I'd like to see him take the ball to hole more instead of settling for jumpers, but this was a big game for Dion, who had been virtually non-existent for the past couple of weeks.
C.J Fair: Fair tweaked an ankle he hurt earlier in the season and it definitely threw him off his game. Not sure this is correct, but the ESPN box score says he went without a rebound, which is hard to believe from a guy who always finds himself around the ball.
Fab Melo: He played 2 minutes and was aggressive while he was on the floor. At this point I'll take it. You can see there's talent there. Hell, at some point I can see him winning a "most improved player" award in the Big East, and you'd have to imagine he'd be the first player to win it who was also the pre-season rookie of the year.
John Cahill, Ed Corbett, Michael Stephens: These three assclowns must have been drinking at Chickie and Pete's before the game. The officiating was an embarrassment. There was zero consistency. Guys were getting killed under the rim and then nickel and dimers were getting called up top. There was the joke that was the last 2 minutes of the first half. Intentional fouls that weren't intention fouls, about 20 missed traveling calls and three guys who had no control of the game.
We've railed on the fact that refs work too much before, but it's true. These are old men chasing young athletes a third of their age. In case you are curious, Cahill has worked 7 days straight, in 7 different states, Corbett has worked 71 games in 35 states this year and Stephens has worked 9 of the last 10 days and called 77 games this year. The officiating has been bad this year. I think the only thing that will fix it will be some horrible blown call in a tournament game, and that's a shame. College basketball deserves better than what its getting from its referees this year.