For Cornell’s Jimmy Boeheim, it was a collegiate debut unlike any other.
Less than thirty-seconds into his first game as a starter, the freshman drained a 3-point shot in front of his father. While that alone is not unusual, not every player makes his debut playing against a team coached by his father, on a court that bears his name.
“You shoot every shot the same,” Jimmy Boeheim said about his opening score. “I’ve shot so many shots in my life; you just have to go out there and be confident and pretend its just like any other shot.”
Cornell jumped out to an early lead against Syracuse on that 3 and a subsequent field goal, though the Orange eventually routed the Big Red, 77-45. But the younger Boeheim had a successful outing, scoring 11 points on the night.
“A tough game tonight,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “You watch your son play his whole life, and you’re always pulling for two things: that he plays well and that his team wins. I was only hoping for one of those tonight, but the way he started out I was a little worried.”
Although Cornell came up short against the Orange, Jimmy Boeheim performed at a level that earned his Hall of Fame Coach father’s approval.
“He said I was close to having a good game,” Jimmy Boeheim joked when asked about what his father said to him after the final buzzer.
The battle of the Boeheims was a central storyline in the lead up to Syracuse’s season opener. Friends and family, including Juli Boeheim, could be seen in the crowd wearing custom shirts to mark the Boeheim vs. Boeheim matchup.
“It’s definitely a weird dynamic,” Syracuse guard Tyus Battle said. “[Jimmy] did well out there. He had some floaters and made some difficult shots. I think he did well.”
Despite the pregame hype, both Boeheim’s appeared to downplay the level of emotion involved.
“I’m not playing, so it doesn’t matter what my emotions are, really,” Jim Boeheim said. “I just have to coach the team. You’re always hoping that your son does well.”
Jimmy Boeheim echoed his father’s sentiments about the level of emotion involved during the game.
“The first few minutes I was a little nervous going up and down,” Jimmy Boeheim said. “After the first few possessions, I felt like it was like any other game. It was good to get into it.”
The dynamic of father coaching against son was a prelude for Syracuse/Cornell matchups in the coming years. Jim Boeheim’s younger son, Buddy, has committed to play for Orange next season, which will add another layer in the Boeheim against Boeheim rivalry.
“We’ve competed our whole life, we’ve been very competitive,” Jimmy Boeheim said. “It will just be another chapter on a bigger stage.”