ITEM: Some Syracuse fans/media critical with Jim Boeheim’s strategy contributing to a (perceived) early exit from the NCAA Tournament – want him to retire.
First of all, be careful what you wish for to those that are seeking the Hall of Famer’s imminent departure. With all due respect to Mike Hopkins, he’ll inherit not only the newness of the ACC, but the accompanying pressure of succeeding perhaps the second-winningest coach in Division I history.
And, as for criticism of Jim Boeheim teams exiting early from the NCAA’s, that’s certainly nothing new. It goes all the way back to his first tournaments in the late 70s. Overall, we’d say he’s still done pretty well for himself and the university.
After an exalting overtime win over a favored Tennessee team led by future NBA standouts Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld (“The Bernie and Ernie Show”) in 1977, Boeheim’s first NCAA game, the Orangemen lost to (then) no-name UNC-Charlotte in the Sweet 16 (although the round was not referred by that term until the early 80s).
A year later it was a first-game defeat to a 15-14 Western Kentucky team and in ’79 a Sweet 16 loss to Ivy League member Penn. Imagine if SU lost to an Ivy League school today?
Getting to the Elite Eight this year minus a key, season-long starter in Fab Melo, while also finally getting over the Sweet 16 hurdle, was quite an accomplishment, albeit simultaneously disappointing with New Orleans the goal all year. Certainly questions remain as to how, with all the resources available, did Melo became ineligible for the NCAA Tournament?
But to say it’s time for Jim Boeheim to depart because folks are upset with his game strategy? He’s earned the right to make the call as to where, when and how. And that scenario will play out soon enough.Brad Bierman