Tag Archives: Jim Boeheim

Tired Of Waiting

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Mike Hopkins

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program has tried to have its cake and eat it as well. Since 1996, former Syracuse guard Mike Hopkins has been an assistant coach at his alma mater and he’s become one of the better basketball minds in the nation. And although that Jim Boeheim is entrenched as the head basketball coach at Syracuse, Hopkins has had his in hand in the dealings of the program. Hopkins has been Syracuse’s main recruiter which has led to the likes of C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams joining the program. In 2007, Syracuse named Hopkins as the head coach in-waiting to one day replace Boeheim as a way to convince him to not leave Central New York. Hopkins has gone on to be a good soldier as he has helped Syracuse remain as one of the top basketball programs in the nation which included trips to the Final Four in 2013 and 2016. However things have changed recently for Hopkins, Boeheim, and the Orange.

On March 19, a bombshell was dropped in the college basketball world when Hopkins agreed to become the new head basketball coach of the Washington Huskies. The move by Hopkins came as a shocker since Boeheim was expected to retire in the next year or two. However Hopkins who is a West Coast guy as he is from Laguna Hills, California, now has an opportunity to run his own program in the Pac-12 Conference, while leaving Syracuse to pick up the pieces.

Hopkins’ departure is a huge blow for Syracuse as the school had it all mapped out for him to succeed Boeheim. And now with Hopkins at Washington, Syracuse and Boeheim worked out a contract extension past next season. However the departure of Hopkins still leaves a huge void recruiting wise as the Orange look to keep up in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

After Syracuse finished second in their inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, they have not finished higher than eighth ever since. The Orange were on probation in 2015 which hurt them on the recruiting trail and the last thing that they can afford to do is fall further behind the likes of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils within the conference.

Syracuse found themselves in a very tough situation as typically when the head coach in-waiting tag is attached to an assistant, within a few years that person will take over the reigns. However in the case of Syracuse, they wanted to keep Hopkins, but it could have been a public relations nightmare had they forced Boeheim out of the door.

But now it is time to play the waiting game as we’ll have to see how things will work out for Hopkins with Washington, and if Boeheim does step down soon, would he come back to Central New York in order to assume the post that he was groomed for?

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Take That NCAA

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During a typical men’s college basketball season it isn’t a shock to see the Syracuse Orange make the Final Four, but this isn’t that typical college basketball season. Last year Syracuse was looking to avoid the hammer of the NCAA as they self-imposed sanctions on themselves for all postseason tournaments last spring due to past infractions that dated back to 2007. And with a reduction of scholarships along with head basketball coach Jim Boeheim being suspended for the first nine games of this college basketball season by the NCAA, it appeared to be over for Syracuse before it truly started.

Syracuse would go 10-3 in their non-conference schedule which included a pair of losses to their former Big East Conference foes in the Georgetown Hoyas and the St. John’s Red Storm. But after the Orange would lose their first four games in Atlantic Coast Conference play, their overall record dropped to 10-7 which didn’t create a ton of confidence for their fan base in Central New York.

The ‘Cuse would get it going under Boeheim as they would reel off eight victories in their next nine games which included wins over NCAA Tournament bound teams in the Duke Blue Devils and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. But just as Syracuse had struggled when the Atlantic Coast Conference season began, they finished in the same fashion as they lost five out of their last six games which included getting bumped off by the Pittsburgh Panthers in their first game of the ACC Tournament.

Syracuse would finish the regular season with a conference record of 9-9 to go along with an overall record of 19-13 as it appeared that a trip to the NCAA Tournament would be far-fetched. But in a bit of a shock on Selection Sunday, Syracuse found themselves in the field of 68 with new life as they earned the 10th-seed in the Midwest Region.

After Syracuse’s famed 2-3 zone was too much for the Dayton Flyers as they cruised to a 70-51 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Orange got a reprieve when the Michigan State Spartans who were the two-seed in the region, along with being a national title favorite were upset in the first-round by the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders which opened up the bracket. Syracuse would use this to their advantage with an impressive 75-50 win over Middle Tennessee State which paved the way for the them to head to Chicago, Illinois for the Midwest Regional Semifinal.

In the Sweet 16, Syracuse would take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs who had a definite size advantage over the ‘Cuse. And even though that the Orange had spotted Gonzaga an early lead, they never lost focus as they clawed back for a gritty 63-60 victory. Syracuse’s win would set up a rematch with a conference foe in the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers had squeaked past Syracuse in late January with a 73-65 win in Charlottesville. But this contest would be on a neutral floor with a different Syracuse team.

Virginia was the top seed in the Midwest Region and they showed that superiority by taking a 14-point lead to the locker room at the half. Virginia was in possession of a 15-point lead late in the second half before Syracuse managed to chip away as they were forced to abandon their zone and Boeheim instead opted to press and trap. But the defensive adjustment worked for Syracuse as an efficient Virginia team became turnover prone and the momentum shifted from one shade of orange to another at the United Center. Syracuse would finish the game on a 29-8 run to win by the final score of 68-62 which gave them their sixth Final Four appearance in school history, and their first as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But whereas in year’s past Syracuse was expected to be here, this year has not been the case as everything has been against them, but they are still standing. The NCAA sanctions that Syracuse was hit with robbed them of depth and size this season which has put a strain on their team. This year Syracuse senior forward Michael Gbinije is fifth the nation this year in minutes played with 37.9 per contest while senior guard Trevor Cooney isn’t that far behind at 36.3 per game which means that the ice bath has become very popular in Central New York after the games. But with everything going against Syracuse this year, they still have Boeheim.

Boeheim is a lifer at Syracuse as he played basketball there from 1963-1966. From 1969-1976, Boeheim was an assistant coach for the Orange before ascending to the head coaching ranks. Boeheim’s record is 988-346, but if you ask the NCAA, he only has 880 victories to his credit and he has seen it all during his Hall of Fame career. And Boeheim’s skill and wizardry have been on display during the spring as the Orange have become the Cinderellas of this tournament. But Boeheim and Syracuse are doing what the truly successful do which is to not get mad, but to get even. When Syracuse was slapped with NCAA sanctions, it would have been very easy for them to tank the season and finish near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference. However with the coaching ability of Boeheim, the leadership of Gbinije and Cooney, along with the emergence of freshman forward Malachi Richardson, the Orange are just two victories away from their second national title in school history.

The run by Syracuse this spring will undoubtedly help them in recruiting as Boeheim is showing that he can still get it done in spite of the sanctions that were levied against his program. Boeheim and Syracuse fought to get some scholarships returned which they did, while they’ve earned nothing but respect on the court as the find themselves at the holy summit of college basketball which is the Final Four.

Source: Sports-reference.com

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What To Watch For At The 2016 Final Four

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One college basketball team will leave Houston in possession of the national championship.

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A Sad End For Boeheim

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The drive from Lyons, New York to nearby Syracuse, New York only takes one hour. But for Syracuse University head basketball coach Jim Boeheim the drive is the equivalent to going right around the corner. Boeheim was born in Lyons and he has been a lifer in Central New York. Boeheim’s journey at Syracuse began in 1962 when he was a walk-on to the school’s basketball team. After graduating from Syracuse in 1966, Boeheim would return to the school in 1969 as an assistant coach of the basketball team. Boeheim would be an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse until he was named as the head basketball coach in 1976.

Jim Boeheim

Under Boeheim, the Syracuse Orange would become a national power in college basketball. And when the Big East Conference was created in 1979, Syracuse would develop historic rivalries there with the Georgetown Hoyas and St. John’s Red Storm that would define the conference and college basketball as a whole. As an assistant and later as a head coach at Syracuse, Boeheim would be a part of five Final Four teams and the school’s only national championship team in basketball in 2003. Boeheim has sent numerous players to the NBA highlighted by power forward Derrick Coleman who was the first overall pick of the 1990 NBA Draft and current New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony who was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2003 Final Four. But even Boeheim cannot escape the dark clouds that surround college athletics.

Recently Syracuse basketball was hit hard with sanctions by the NCAA. The NCAA stripped Boeheim of 108 wins while also reducing Syracuse’s basketball scholarships over the next few years due to a lack of institutional control mainly surrounding the team’s academics. Syracuse had already self-imposed a ban this year for any postseason tournament, but it wasn’t enough for them to avoid the dreaded NCAA hammer. Syracuse had vowed to appeal the NCAA’s sanctions and recently at a school function, Boeheim stated that he “wasn’t going anywhere”. But Boeheim got served with a harsh dose of reality as indeed he isn’t bigger than Syracuse.

Last week Boeheim announced that he will retire in three years in a decision that more than likely wasn’t solely his. Along with Boeheim, Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross is resigning and he will be taking another position within the university which smells of the school desperately seeking to start fresh.

You can’t think about Syracuse basketball and not think about Boeheim as he is the blue and orange which is evident by the Orange’s basketball court at the Carrier Dome being named after him. Boeheim has done many tremendous things for Syracuse, but at the end of the day he is simply an employee that must answer to someone who signs the paycheck that he still waits in line to cash. When Syracuse announced its move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2011, Boeheim was publicly critical of it as he loved his beloved conference. But after being spoken to about it by Gross, Boeheim would quickly sing a new tune and welcome a new journey down to Tobacco Road. And just like Boeheim still intended to be at Syracuse until he was ready to walk away, the decision was not his either.

Where there’s smoke, there is fire and just like Syracuse tried to distance themselves from longtime assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine a few years ago amid sexual abuse allegations, the only fall guys left this time were Gross and Boeheim.

Boeheim isn’t leaving Syracuse immediately as his farewell tour will take place for three years which gives the university ample time to find a successor to the Hall of Fame basketball coach if they’ve cooled on Syracuse assistant basketball coach Mike Hopkins who was dubbed as their head coach in-waiting a few years ago. Syracuse will attempt to smooth out all of the rough spots between now and then with Boeheim. And Boeheim can expect to see his fair share of well wishers come out of the wood works to bid farewell to him that were once rivals such as former Georgetown head basketball coach John Thompson and former Connecticut head basketball coach Jim Calhoun whom Boeheim had fierce battles with on the hardwood and recruiting against to current rivals such as Duke head basketball coach Mike Kryzewski who Boeheim has served under as an assistant head basketball coach on Team USA and current Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino who was a member of Boeheim’s first staff at Syracuse.

The end is rarely that pretty for head coaches as they just like regular employees are typically unable to write their final chapter. Boeheim has done more good than he has bad, but his mistakes have expedited his retirement. And the jury will still be out on how Boeheim will be remembered.

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