I've watched Syracuse basketball for 20 years and feel I always know what to expect from the fans. I know when they're going to be happy and I know when they're going to be angry. I know when they're going to rip Boeheim and I know what players they're going to stand behind. I know they're always going to cheer before the national anthem is over and I know they're going to chant "We Want Tacos" whenever SU approaches 75 points.
I feel I understand this fanbase better than any in the nation, in any sport.
But, for the life of me, I can't understand the love affair with Mookie Jones. The redshirt sophomore is basically the 10th man on this year's team and has been relegated to blowouts and garbage time.
He's a one-trick ponie -- a 3-point shooter. He plays no defense and can't do anything offensively other than shoot, and still, he hasn't done that extraordinarily well.
But for some reason, the fans demand more Mookie even in close games.
I just don't get it.
For the past year and a half, Syracuse has won with strong defense. That vaunted 2-3 zone got them to a No. 1 ranking and this season it has them at 12-0.
And if you're going to insert someone who's a liability on defense, say a Dion Waiters, then be better be pretty terrific on offense. Well, Waiters is terrific on offense. And Mookie isn't.
When asked why Mookie doesn't play more, my answer is always the same: "Who do you want him playing over?"
Triche? He's coming on strong and is a far better ball-handler and defender than Jones.
Scoop? No way that's happening. Jardine is the team's best play-maker and one of the best assist-to-turnover ratio guys in the nation.
Waiters? Not with his explosiveness. He could go by Mookie in his sleep.
CJ Fair? Fair has already shown a knack for rebounding and getting to the hole.
Syracuse's biggest flaw this season is 3-point shooting, I grant you that. But it has yet to cost them. And when it does, I guarantee the calls for Mookie minutes will be even louder.
I just don't see him contributing much more than a 3-pointer here or there. I know nothing pumps up the SU faithful like a big 3-pointer, but why sacrifice that for good defense or athleticism.
Mookie is no the answer and I don't believe he deserves more playing time. I've seen all I need to see from him for two years. He can hit wide-open 3s. That's about it.
And yet, the fans still want more Mookie. For a fanbase I feel I understand, I'm lost on this one.