Orange Watch: Defense Jim Boeheim talking about not just famed Syracuse zone

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Jim Boeheim is busy steering the program through stormy NCAA waters and eight final games.

Item: It’s started.  The questions from media members around the country posed to Jim Boeheim about his legacy and that of his longtime program’s reputation, and with further word of sanctions from the NCAA likely before the month is out, expect more of the same over the final eight games of this 2014-15 season. 

In the ubiquitous, rapidly changing daily news cycle, it didn’t take long for columnists around the country to take aim at Syracuse basketball and its 39 year head coach following the school’s announcement last week that it was self-imposing a ban on post season play for this year.

First post-game stop, Pittsburgh, where after the Orange played valiantly for some 38 minutes this past Saturday afternoon before they wore down against an athletic Panthers team that found success maneuvering in and around the Orange 2-3 in an eventual 83-77 ‘Cuse defeat, the first media volley was lobbed.

The expected question about the school’s second post-season ban over Boeheim’s career was asked with the SU boss first refusing to talk about the NCAA investigation, then in a scene repeated over the course of his career, he purposely short answered an unrelated question about Kaleb Joseph’s play in the Pitt defeat while gathering up his thoughts, then shifted back to the query that after two NCAA-related sanctions would college basketball followers think he has run a clean program throughout his tenure?

“And another thing for your question,” Boeheim said after letting out a deep sigh while looking directly at the inquisitor and nodding his head.  “I don’t give a sh_t what those people think.  I know what I’ve done, and I know what we do, and I’m proud of it.”

» Related: Syracuse starts fast, fades late in loss to Pittsburgh

So the bar has been set in terms of Boeheim’s reaction to what those outside of the Melo Center are saying about a program that’s now a two-time offender in the eyes of the NCAA, while the much spotlighted players, subjects of many sympathetic stories showcasing their fate of no postseason play for violations that occurred before their time in orange, there’s a strong sense of unity as they conclude an unusual season which comes with a finite end date.

“We’ve got to play for each other,” explained Trevor Cooney following the Pitt game and in admiration for Rakeem Christmas and his ‘another day at the office performance’ of 23 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks for the lone senior who will miss out on the chance to lead his team into the postseason before embarking on a NBA career.

“It comes down to picking each other up and playing for each other, and absolutely playing for Rock (Christmas).  Being a senior is an honor here (at SU) and you want to play for guys like that, and come out there and work hard every single day.”

The season ending, eight game countdown continues Wednesday night at Boston College (7:00 p.m. ET / ESPN2), where there will once again be plenty of attention paid to what’s happening both on and off the court.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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