MBB : Jardine, Joseph finish standout careers in emotional loss to Ohio State

first_imgBOSTON – Leaning against a hallway wall in the TD Garden, Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins hugged his sobbing son. It was nearly an hour after the Orange’s season had ended with a loss to Ohio State in the Elite Eight, but the tears kept flowing.Antonio Jardine, father of SU point guard Scoop Jardine, walked over. He too hugged Hopkins’ son, speaking into the young boy’s ear.Minutes later, Scoop Jardine would walk slowly down that same hallway. Eyes red from crying, nose running slightly – he would need the same hug from his father as the realization of the end of his Syracuse career began to painfully sink in.‘The loss hurts, but me not playing with these guys for the rest of my life is going to hurt even more,’ Jardine said. ‘These are like my brothers, and we came up short today, but for the most part I think we had a great season.’With the 77-70 defeat to the Buckeyes on Saturday, the careers of the two winningest players in Syracuse history ended with a loss. Jardine and fellow senior Kris Joseph wiped tears from their eyes at the podium just minutes after coming up short in their final chance at the Final Four. A team that seemed destined to race to New Orleans on the backs of Jardine and Joseph stumbled on the last lap of what may still be viewed as the best season in program history.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor different reasons, Saturday’s game against Ohio State might be one both players would soon rather forget.Joseph managed just 10 points and turned the ball over four times, including two costly mistakes on back-to-back possessions. He dribbled out of bounds on the left baseline with 4:08 remaining and the Orange trailing by five. Twenty-three seconds later, his inaccurate pass was behind Brandon Triche and caromed off his hands out of bounds.Jardine was subbed out by head coach Jim Boeheim with 4:19 to go and watched all but the final 21 seconds of the game from the bench. He finished with 14 points and six assists.‘It’s tough,’ Joseph said after declining to answer the first question at the podium due to his emotions. ‘It’s real tough knowing that my career is over and that I won’t play with these guys again.’Inside the Syracuse locker room, assistant coach Gerry McNamara had trouble containing his emotions as well. With his tie undone and draped around his shoulders, he needed a few moments to compose himself before fielding questions.When asked about how Jardine and Joseph will be remembered, McNamara was quick to answer and cut off the question midsentence.‘Winners,’ he said. ‘Two winners. We’ve had two of the most successful years in program history in their tenure and the most successful year in program history this past season.’The 34-3 record posted by this year’s team is the best mark in school history. And the 2009-10 team, on which Joseph and Jardine played key roles coming off the bench, ascended to No. 1 in the country as well.It left McNamara with a mix of emotions that was equal parts heartbreak and gratitude. Broken down by the loss of two of Syracuse’s best players of the last decade and thankful for their contributions to the program and this year’s team.The SU player most unaffected by the loss – outwardly, at least – was Brandon Triche. While tears flowed around him, the junior guard remained composed while answering questions.With Jardine and Joseph gone, Syracuse becomes Triche’s team. A starter throughout his entire Orange career, he will enter next season as the unquestioned leader.It’s a role that Triche said begins immediately. And perhaps with that in mind he didn’t want to seem vulnerable in front of his teammates.‘Tomorrow,’ Triche said. ‘Tomorrow I’ll be in the gym. I’ll probably run a few miles if the weather is nice. And I’m ready to get back. We have the same pieces. I think Fab going down helped us for next year. We’ve got guys who’ve got experience.’The experience of Jardine and Joseph is something Triche studied throughout the season. Not always the most vocal of players, he said he’s learned about when to voice his opinion and when to lay back.He’s learned competitiveness, too, saying the two departed seniors possess it in spades, with Jardine being the most competitive person he knows.All season long, Boeheim hailed his seniors for their leadership. He said his team would go as far as those two seniors took it.They took this team to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003. They took this team through best regular season ever. And though they didn’t take this team to a Final Four, Boeheim said they’d done more than enough.‘They’ve just had an unbelievable career, really, these guys,’ Boeheim said. ‘I don’t think you can give them enough credit for what Scoop and Kris have done.’[email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on March 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13last_img