He’s been Jim Boeheim’s son long enough to know better, but Buddy Boeheim went ahead and checked the internet at one of the lowest points of Syracuse’s 2020-21 basketball season. And, of course, it was aggravating. It was probably ugly, but he shared only the annoying stuff with us.
“If I’m going to be honest, after a couple of games, the Georgia Tech one, I saw a lot of things on Twitter talking about him, just crazy things,” Buddy told reporters on a zoom call Sunday night. “How he has not done well in the last 10 years.
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“You know how many people would dream of going to two Sweet 16s, two Final Fours and an Elite Eight? In 10 years, I think that’s pretty good. He continues to do it. He’s one of the best coaches in all of sports. doubt about it. “
Buddy spoke on the occasion of Syracuse’s advancement to the NCAA Sweet 16 Tournament, the first but 20th in his father’s long career. The Orange got their second consecutive upset at March Madness, 75-72 over No. 3 seed West Virginia, and advanced to the semifinals in the Midwest Region. Buddy played a major role in the victory, scoring 25 points and hitting 6 of 13 from 3-point range. Over the course of the last four games, two essential for Orange’s selection for the tournament and the two that advanced them to the next weekend, he averaged 28.3 points.
“I can’t describe it. It’s something I’ve dreamed of all my life,” Buddy said afterward. “Winning two games, doubting both, the loser … this means everything. If you asked me a month or two ago where we would be, I don’t think I’d say Sweet 16, that’s for sure. This team never gave up.”
Buddy knows his father’s story, so even he was a little hesitant, right?
This has been the story of Jim Boeheim’s later years as Syracuse coach. As much as he continues, he is surely closer to the end of his career than to the beginning. And it has been less glorious in the past eight seasons, after Orange left the Big East Conference for the ACC.
Since their first season in the ACC they have not achieved a seed in the top four in the NCAA. They were a number 10 in 2016, an 11 in 2018, and 11 again this year. And yet that seems to almost power Syracuse basketball. They enter the tournament and even accomplished teams at the championship level wither away as they face Boeheim’s exclusive 2-3 zone defense. In 2016, Orange were quick to appear in the Final Four. In 2018, it was a hard-won Sweet 16 finale. This time, we don’t know where it will end. But it didn’t end against the Mountaineers.
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“I think our defense helps us a little bit,” Jim Boeheim said. “It’s different. People don’t see it. So it’s a little adjustment. But our offense has been really good. We’re playing two really good defensive teams and we’re shooting more than 50 percent.”
Without taking anything away from the achievement, but West Virginia is not a good defensive team. He is ranked 66th in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. The Mountaineers needed to excel on the offensive side to thrive, and the Boeheim area took care of that.
West Virginia shot 37 percent from the field. The attack was so dysfunctional that the Mountaineers converted just 34.1 percent from inside the 3-point arc.
The Boeheim zone has developed a habit of making exceptional players superfluous in the most crucial games. In 2018, Michigan State was 30-4 and the Big Ten regular-season champion and earned a No. 3 seed. Freshman Jaren Jackson, a versatile 6-11 forward, was just three months away from being the No. third player selected in the NBA Draft.
Paired against Orange in a second-round game, Spartans coach Tom Izzo chose to use Ben Carter, who averaged less than one point per game, for 23 minutes. Carter scored two points, grabbed two rebounds and passed for two assists. Jackson played just 15 minutes in what became the last game of his college career, missing every shot he made from the field.
On Sunday night, the big man from West Virginia, Derek Culver, disappeared. An All-Big 12 first-team pick, he played just 21 minutes against Orange. That was enough to shoot 2 of 10 from the field, but its irrelevance and ineffectiveness were obvious signs that the Syracuse approach was working brilliantly. He was replaced for much of the second half by Gabe Osabuohien.
Boeheim said taking Culver out of the game was a problem for Syracuse, because the Mountaineers were better with his replacement. This was true, but eliminating Culver meant that the Mountaineers were no longer Mountaineers. This is how the Syracuse area works, it always has. Not only does it make you less than yourself, it makes you someone else.
There was a time this season when it seemed unlikely that Orange would make the NCAA Tournament. When they were 13-8 in late February after back-to-back losses to Duke and Georgia Tech, their chance of making the tournament seemed slim.
As they won at home over North Carolina and Clemson, both NCAA Tournament teams, they stayed alive. It looked like they would have to do something exciting in the ACC Tournament to win an NCAA bid, but all that happened was a win over an NC State middle team and a loss to the Virginia league champion buzzer. However, that was enough, because many others in the search for the latest offers stepped back with damaging defeats.
“We were pretty bad for quite a while this year. They beat us 25 points. They didn’t beat us 10. At Clemson, Pittsburgh and Virginia … they killed us,” Jim Boeheim said. “And they kept going, they kept coming to practice, they kept trying to improve.
“And then we improved a little bit, and in the end, we were playing really good basketball. But it’s difficult. You can play good basketball at the end of the year, but taking it to the tournament isn’t always easy. There are some teams that were playing really well at the tournament. end of the year they are no longer in this tournament. It is difficult to win in this tournament. “
What Boeheim doesn’t find difficult at all is ignoring the critics of his training. If you don’t hear from your athletic director or president about the recent regular season decline, and you assure everyone that you haven’t, you will continue to operate more or less as it has done since 1976.
“I don’t listen to it because it’s from inconsequential people,” he told a journalism student. “I’m sure you’re going to Syracuse, right? You know what that means? All that stuff on the internet, not a single phrase on the internet matters.
“If you’ve been a coach at Syracuse for 45 years, everyone has an opinion on what we should or shouldn’t do, or if we should be better or not. Maybe the next coach will be better. But I don’t care what the people say. the rest.
“I learned it a long time ago. My eighth grade guidance counselor told me, ‘Jim, you’re not going to please everyone.’ He must have known that I was going to be a coach. “
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.