Irate Syracuse snaps skid
Something didn’t look right with Scoop Jardine.
In perhaps the most critical game of the season thus far for the Orange – going against Connecticut in the Hartford Civic Center on Wednesday and trying to break a four-game losing streak, the Syracuse junior guard appeared out of sorts.
He couldn’t buy a basket in the first half and was making poor defensive reads. Most telling, the kid who rarely shuts up had turned virtually mute on the court.
There was good reason, though.
An anonymous poster on a gambling website had spread a rumor that Jardine and two teammates were under investigation for alleged point shaving. A reporter for a Rochester, N.Y., TV station had fueled the rumor with a Facebook posting.
It was only 20 minutes before the start of the game that Jardine learned that the anonymous poster had admitted spreading an unconfirmed rumor from another website, and apologized.
No. 17 Syracuse ended its skid with a 66-58 win over No. 6 UConn, but Jardine scored only seven points to go along with six assists.
"I was stressing,” Jardine admitted. "People started calling me, they were tweeting about it. It was really getting out there.
"I knew the truth, but it was disrespectful to me. It hurt because everything I had worked for could be taken away — with a lie. It’s crazy.”
The rumor was all over Syracuse message boards. Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins fielded a call from athletic director Daryl Gross about it Tuesday night.
Even UConn star Kemba Walker was aware.
"Of course I felt bad,” said Walker, who has developed a close friendship with Jardine over the years. "But I knew it wasn’t true with the type of guy and competitor he is. I know damn well he wouldn’t point shave.”
"It’s crazy that people can write whatever they want,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "And then everyone starts to believe it because it’s in writing.”
After winning its first 18 games to begin the season, Syracuse had lost four straight. Theories about its sudden demise began to swirl.
Maybe it was that the 2-3 zone wasn’t nearly as effective as it had been the first 18 games, as opponents shot 50 percent from the field in the Orange’s four losses.
Or it could have been that this team just wasn’t as advertised — and that’s why the Orange barely got past the William & Marys, Michigans and Georgia Techs of the world.
Then there was the point-shaving theory.
Jardine’s teammates, Dion Waiters and James Southerland, were also implicated in the allegations, which were later posted on the website Deadspin.
"Why would you do that to a bunch of kids who are just trying to do our best?” Waiters said. "We weren’t throwing games. We just weren’t playing well.”
Jardine wrestled with whether he should defend himself, eventually tweeting the following:
I love the game itself to much would never jeopardize everything I work so hard for with something like that! I play this game for free!!
It’s not true so please stop with all the bs lies!! And let me and my teammates play the game we love with peace and stop trying to make Something out of nothing!!!!
Jardine missed his first six shots of the night before getting on the board late in the first half. He settled down at the end of a close game and made a couple of big free throws to give Syracuse a 63-58 lead with 41.7 seconds left.
"This was a big win for us,” Jardine said. "We really needed it.”
The four-game skid is history.
But the point-shaving allegations won’t be forgotten by Syracuse.
"No apology can really be accepted,” Jardine said.