Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Legend of Jermaine Sardine

Among the many community involvement opportunities for the Syracuse basketball team is the annual Hoops for Hope dinner with the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Orange players sign autographs and eat dinner with kids from the area clubs, before a question and answer session with coach Jim Boeheim.

One of the kids at this past October's dinner exclaimed that his favorite Orange player was... Jermaine Sardine. An alter-ego was born for senior guard Scoop Jardine, whom the youngster must've meant.

Jardine agreed with me early in the season that the presence of Jermaine Sardine would be a good way to explain away his every-so-often head-scratching plays that punctuate his otherwise superb handling of the ball and the Cuse offense.

By Jardine's own admission, his bad side has made a couple of NCAA tournament appearances. Sardine had just two points and four turnovers in the first half of the Kansas State game, before Jardine came through with 14 points and five assists in the second half of a 75-59 win.

Ol' Jermaine made it to Boston too. It looked like he may have been wearing the #11 jersey when a last-shot scenario instead turned into an easy basket and momentum swing for Wisconsin Thursday night.

"Before halftime, I turned it over and got lit up in the locker room. That was Sardine," Jardine said.

That was Jardine's only turnover in a 14-point, four-assist performance that earned a 64-63 win and an Elite 8 appearance against Ohio State tonight. The Orange will be best served if Jermaine Sardine remains benched and Scoop Jardine shows from start to finish the form that made him second-team all-Big East this season.

He'll be matched up in part with Buckeye sophomore and Big Ten defensive player of the year Aaron Craft tonight.

"Aaron Craft is the best defensive guard in the country," Jardine said. "I've always thought about playing him. It's a huge opportunity."

A win gets Jardine and his teammates to the program's fifth Final Four. A loss ends an incredible season after 34 wins.

"This is my best season ever. It could've stopped (Thursday)," Jardine said. "I'm proud of these guys and what they overcame."

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