Much like McKayla Maroney and her Olympic silver medal, Coach Jim Boeheim is not impressed with his Orange.
Even the wake of an 84-48 blowout win over Eastern Michigan on December 3, the coach made it clear that the team still has a long way to go in terms of progress.
“This team has a lot to learn,” Boeheim explained. “We have a lot of work to do to be good—we want to be good,” he continued.
With the Orange off to a 6-0 start to the season, fans are asking themselves: “Well, aren’t we already good?” After all, the Orange has already recorded a win against San Diego State University, who was a top-ranked team in the NCAA last year.
Fans may view these early victories as an indication for how the team will fare during the tournament this spring, but Boeheim knows better.
“Playing really good teams in November will help your team right away—for the next two or three weeks—but it’s not going to help you in March,” the coach stated. Instead, Boeheim prefers to take each early season game as a learning experience, and the Eastern Michigan game was no different. He revealed that, “This game helps us because we can point out the mistakes and turnovers that will cost us in a big game. We can show where we didn’t defend in a couple of situations. These are learning experiences. The score doesn’t matter.”
Boeheim also directly addressed the Syracuse community’s “overwhelming confidence” in its team, which is something that he cannot justify from his point of view.
“I laugh when I see everybody thinking that we’re going to win every game,” he said. “Anybody we play can come in here and beat us. That’s college basketball. To just assume that we’re going to win every game is the most arrogant thing I’ve seen in my life,” he remarked candidly.
The coach urged fans to gage their expectations based on the talent of the current team and not last year’s all-star lineup.
“Last year’s team was good right now. This team is not good, they have got to get to be good,” Boeheim reminded fans. “It bothers me this year when people say ‘Oh, you’re going to go 17-0 or 18-0,’ because we’ve got a long ways to go to get to be that team,” he added.
Although Boeheim hopes to win every game that they play in December, he wants to keep pushing his team to the limits of their talent and athleticism. “We’re going to have to play well, we’re going to have to play better and we’re going to have to work on things,” he reiterated. “Then that will help us get ready for the conference, and that’s a whole other world.”