Head coach Jim Boeheim suspended for nine ACC games.
A short bench featuring three freshmen.
DaJuan Coleman making a comeback after missing the better part of two entire seasons.
An unknown situation at center if Coleman cannot stay healthy, including one of those aforementioned freshmen.
Talk of a new reliance on three-point shooting.
With everything aside from the 2-3 zone defense up in the air or at least simply different for the 2015-2016 version of the Syracuse basketball team, one thing remained the same. From the head coach down through the roster, the Orange held an attitude of “business as usual” at Media Day.
Boeheim was everything SU fans have come to expect from his preceding 39 years on campus. He spoke quietly, offered answers in a matter-of-fact tone, gave a wry smile to a question he felt was a little presumptive, and got off a couple jokes that earned a chuckle.
With his metronome ticking as usual, Boeheim set the tone for the event.
Assistant coach Mike Hopkins, who will steer the team when for a month this winter, gave the answers he always does when asked about Boeheim. When asked what he had learned from him, Hopkins cited loyalty and family as the first two attributes. As he has in the past, Hopkins also cited that Boeheim’s genius is in his ability to take the most complex things and explain them simply.
And down through the roster it went.
It all tracks back to one thing most take for granted when it comes to the Syracuse basketball program. It feels odd to cite it after last season, where so many things went sideways, ranging from the team’s self-imposed postseason ban to a ho-hum 18-13 final record to the NCAA punishment levied against Boeheim and his squad.
While Hopkins may be right about Boeheim’s ability to explain things simply, the head coach’s greatest attribute may be his consistency. For a head coach often portrayed as a fountain of emotions with settings ranging from snide sarcasm to slicing wit to sideline eruptions, Boeheim has actually established consistency as the hallmark of his program.
Even now, heading into what has to be one of the strangest seasons of his long career, Boeheim was what he always has been, the leader of a basketball program who believes in himself and his charges.
It should not have been a surprise. After all, Boeheim has been doing this for so long, we should know better. Even with a list of changes and things stacked up against them as high as the basket itself, Boeheim was once again what he has always been.