The end of the most glorious era in Syracuse basketball history is closer than you think.
With a second three-year commitment to USA Basketball now in year two for Jim Boeheim, culminating with the London Olympics in late summer 2012, we know the SU coach is going to be around next season and likely 2012-13 following the Olympic competition.
But after that, all bets are off.
Shortly after his 36th season begins next fall, the Orange hoop boss will turn 67 years old. His three children with wife Juli — Jimmy and twins Jack and Jaime — are fast approaching their formative teenage years, a period filled with a myriad of time-consuming academic and extra- curricular activities that any parent wants to be a part of in their child’s life.
Imagine the time he’d have if not coaching anymore to pay attention to his top pastimes: Family, golf and giving back to the community.
He has 856 victories and while it’s unlikely he would be able to pass Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski — who’s won 900 and counting — as he nears Bob Knight’s mark of 902 victories, he can pass legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp (1930-72) who won 876 games with another standard 20-win season in 2012.
Rupp was the longtime standard-bearer when it came to all-time victories before Dean Smith, Knight and Coach K came around, and it was Rupp whom Boeheim has frequently mentioned over the years as an eyebrow-raising example of longevity and success.
With three more high-profile recruits set to join the program next season, several more being pursued for the 2012 class, including all-state big man DaJuan Coleman of near-by Jamesville-DeWitt, there’s plenty of talent on hand for Boeheim to compete for high seeds in the NCAA Tournament the next two seasons.
And, with a little luck when it comes to match-ups and lack of injuries, who knows, but perhaps there’s a fourth Boeheim Final Four trip before departing, and keeping the important program streak alive of making the Final Four in each decade since the 1970s.
There’s also the matter of his much discussed successor, soon-to-be 17-year assistant Mike Hopkins, who’s been ever the gentleman in graciously handling the topic when it has been brought before him on numerous occasions the last three years.
It’s also been interesting to note the increased interaction between Hopkins and athletic director Daryl Gross during that time, including the two huddling often in the locker room after games to review both the good and the bad.
The hiring of the head coach to follow a Hall of Fame legend is tricky for any program or franchise, but with everyone knowing that an SU basketball coach has to be a “Syracuse guy,” this hiring is a lot easier for those administrators on The Hill that will sign off on the transition.
So, it’s time to savior the sunset of the Jim Boeheim years, because Syracuse fans won’t realize how fortunate they were to have this all-time great coach until he is gone.
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