NEWARK, N.J. – The first “true” road game of the season, Saturday’s hold-on-to-win five point victory against Seton Hall at Carrier Dome South — sorry, we mean the Prudential Center — was a return to some of the shaky offensive performances that the SU basketball team demonstrated in its early starts against mid major, non-conference opponents.
But despite a sluggish start that various Orange players afterward attributed to some days off, a few players not practicing and a week between games to begin the new year that produced some ugly numbers that jumped off the stat sheet, the end result kept the Orange as one of seven unbeaten teams (prior to Cincinnati’s game Sunday at Villanova) nationally and was win number 845 of Jim Boeheim’s 35-year career.
Do the math, and that’s 35 years of winning a minimum of 24 games each season.
“I used to look at Adolph Rupp’s record (the legendary Kentucky coach who was 876-190 in 41 seasons coaching the Wildcats from 1930-1972) and that was winning 20 games for 40 seasons plus almost four seasons,” an amazed Boeheim said in the fall of 2009 when he was on the cusp of joining the exclusive 800 win fraternity. “I could never even imagine coaching for 40 years.”
He may have not imagined that long of a career, but coming off his second 30-win season of the 2000s and already past the halfway mark to get there again this season, with so much athleticism carrying this year’s team on any given night and with three more top-rated recruits in the fold for next fall, it’s looking likely that Boeheim will glide past Rupp’s numbers in less than 41 years.
In fact, this mini run of only five losses dating back to March of 2009 had one member of the media who has followed the team intently since Boeheim’s first season, in an inquisitive mode following the win over the Pirates when he asked the hoop boss about the 46-5 record in the last 51 games.
“It must be coaching,” Boeheim said, smiling, causing most in the room the laugh in unison. “Coaching or luck. Take your choice. Let’s have a vote. Coaching? No. Luck?”
Safe to say it’s a little of both along with the most important element of all, great talent.
So, how much longer will Orange fans have the luxury of a Hall of Fame coach patrolling the sidelines winning games? Boeheim never likes to talk about those kinds of things during the season, but he is committed to coaching USA Basketball through the 2012 Olympics in London.
That likely takes him at least though 2012-13 which would be his 37th season. With his children entering their teenage years and being a Dad who rarely misses any of their activities, figure between 2013 and 2016 which would take him right up to the 40-season mark and Adolph Rupp territory of longevity, something he once thought he could never envision.
Brad Bierman is a Special Contributor to The Juice Online.