Instant Juice: Mike Hopkins to leave Syracuse, take over at Washington

Hopkins is leaving Syracuse
Hopkins is leaving Syracuse

A quick take on Mike Hopkins leaving Syracuse to become the head coach at Washington:

WHAT HAPPENED: In a move that caught many in Central New York off guard, associate head coach Mike Hopkins will be taking the head coaching position at the University of Washington. He replaces Lorenzo Romar, who was fired after a dismal 9-22 season and an 11th place finish in the Pac-12. Jim Boeheim, who was originally set to retire following the 2017-18 season, was signed to an extension. “Mike accepting the position at Washington has put us in a unique position,” said John Wildhack, Syracuse Director of Athletics in a release. “The circumstances are different now than they were when he was named head-coach-in-waiting.”

» Related: In rare non-NCAA Tournament year, Syracuse lacked senior leadership

ANALYSIS: Hopkins was named the head-coach-in-waiting after a timeline was set for Jim Boeheim to retire following the 2017-18 season. Now, that transition has been scrapped and Boeheim will remain the head coach beyond next season. Assistant coach Adrian Autry has been elevated to the associated head coach position, and Gerry McNamara will remain aboard, as well. It was a stunning turnaround for what originally appeared to be an orderly transition to the post-Boeheim era. It begs the question: Did Hopkins’ departure have anything to do with Boeheim wanting to continue coaching beyond next season, or was Boeheim’s extension truly the result of Hopkins’ taking the UW position? It’s all academic now, as Boeheim will remain in charge indefinitely.

HERO: Washington has found its new head coach after failing to make the NCAA Tournament since the 2010-11 season. Hopkins is a west coast guy, having grown up in Southern California before moving to Central New York, and knows the recruiting grounds out there. Romar had a prized recruiting class coming in, which included former Syracuse recruit Michael Porter Jr., but reports are that Porter will follow his father to the new coaching staff at Missouri. Perhaps Hopkins’ prior relationship with Porter can smooth things over.

ZERO: Boeheim won’t be coaching Syracuse forever. Will there be a new plan created to transition to the post-Boeheim era? The move to keep Boeheim aboard seems to be a bandage on a much more serious wound, but for now, the move certainly helps continuity.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse now has an open coaching vacancy. Hopkins was in charge of developing the big men following Bernie Fine’s resignation. It would make sense to find an assistant coach that has a proven track record in that department, or perhaps a Syracuse alum (Derrick Coleman? John Wallace?) as has been the case with Boeheim’s staff over the last decade.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]