Year number 42 might just be the best work we have ever seen from Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.
Actually, let’s just call it how it is; this is best coaching job that the Hall of Famer has ever put together.
I get it. I’m young. I’ve only been alive about half as long Boeheim has coached at Syracuse.
Still this feels like the most impressive run to the Sweet 16 he has had, which is saying something because it’s the nineteenth time the Orange has progressed this far under Boeheim.
The struggles of the Syracuse Orange during the 2017-18 are well documented. Boeheim dealt with Taurean Thompson leaving the program for Seton Hall in August, Geno Thorpe departed unexpectedly in November, and Howard Washington suffering a season-ending knee injury in practice to close January.
Oh, and all of this is happening with Syracuse still under NCAA sanctions, which restricts the number of scholarships it has to offer players.
After the dust settled on the sudden loses, the Orange was left with just two healthy scholarship guards. Bourama Sidibe has continued to push himself despite knee tendinitis, and Braed0n Bayer went from walk-on to scholarship player to playing the closing minutes of Syracuse’s round of 32 game in the NCAA tournament.
The road to this point has been far from easy for Boeheim’s crew. The Orange is anemic on offense. Syracuse is 31oth in the country for scoring per game and tied for 315th in shooting percentage.
SU can’t move the ball either. It is 330th in the nation in terms of assists per game. Keep in mind that there are 351 Division I basketball programs.
In short, everyone is right. We’ve all heard it by now. Syracuse doesn’t deserve to be here.
People look at the roster, the offense, and the zone the Orange brings to the table and say it has no business being in the NCAA tournament.
I guess they forgot who was sitting on the bench calling the shots.
Heading into the game against Duke on Friday, Boeheim has coached Syracuse to 1,033 wins (I don’t care what the NCAA says, he won those games). He won’t win AP Coach of the Year like he did in 2010, but if you are talking about the coach who got the most out of the players he has on his roster, then Boeheim wins in a landslide.
It seems weird to say Boeheim should be coach of the year with just 19 regular season wins and the first time he has ever had a losing record in conference play.
But at the end of the regular season, Syracuse finished with the thirteenth toughest schedule. Since then, it has beaten three power conference teams in the tournament, topping it off with a win over a top ten team in a pseudo road game.
The lack of talent Boeheim is working with should give him the nod as well. None of these players are first-round caliber players at the NBA level right now. Not even Tyus Battle. CBS Sports does not have him going in the first round as of its latest mock draft. Neither does Sports Illustrated or Bleacher Report.
There is no five-star freshman. There is no senior leader. All of the things that usually carry a team deep into the annual March tournament are lacking for Syracuse. And yet, here they are. That is not by accident. That is because of Boeheim.