College basketball seasons often end in tears because that is the nature of sudden-death play in postseason tournaments. But Syracuse seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph had an especially hard time gulping down the emotion of finishing their brilliant Orange careers with a 77-70 loss to Ohio State in the NCAA East Regional final Saturday night at TD Bank Garden.
"The loss hurts, but me not playing with these guys for the rest of my life is going to hurt even more," said Jardine, who had 14 points and six assists and helped Syracuse cut a 10-point second-half deficit to one. "These are like my brothers, and we came up short today, but for the most part, I think we had a great season."
Joseph looked tight before the game coming off the floor after warmups, and sure enough, he struggled in the first half, making only 2 of 9 field goal attempts. He was better in the second half, scoring six of his 10 points and making the only two field goals he tried, but it was a quiet ending for a splendid career.
Asked to describe his feelings, Joseph said nothing for several painful seconds as he fought to hold back tears. Finally, he blurted, "It's tough. It's real tough knowing that my career is over and I won't play with these guys again."
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim defended his decision to keep Jardine (pictured) on the bench for four minutes near the end before putting him back in with 21 seconds left. Dion Waiters and Brandon Triche were playing well offensively until Waiters fouled out in the final seconds. Boeheim also acknowledged Joseph's struggles, saying,"He ust couldn't get going, and he's a big key for us."
But at the end of a 34-3 season that included a 17-1 Big East record that was the best in school history, Boeheim paid tribute to Jardine and Joseph, who won more games -- 119 -- in four years than any class in Syracuse history.
"These last two years, they've been great starting, and they've been good leaders," Boeheim said. "They've really done everything you could ask. They've just had an unbelievable career, really, these guys. I don't think you can give enough credit for what Scoop and Kris have done."