Orange Watch: Father-son combinations unique to Syracuse basketball

Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim
Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim watches game action with father Jim Boeheim looking on from the sidelines. Mandatory Photo Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Item: Before the Boeheims, Jim and Buddy, there were the Danforths, Roy and Mike. Head coach and team member. While on Jim Boeheim’s Orange coaching tree, one of his SU assistants coached his son in NCAA Div. I, while three of his former assistants have produced successful coaching sons in the Div. I and NBA ranks.

If true, and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim decides to exit simultaneously with the final season of eligibility for son Buddy at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season (discounting that Buddy would seek a coaching position as a graduate assistant in 2022-23 with a family agreement of one more season to mentor under his father), there will be a form of poetic justice rewarding an indefatigable half century work ethic.

Whenever the elder Boeheim makes the call on ending his tenure of defining Syracuse basketball, he’ll additionally savor the notion that he finished coaching while getting to oversee one of his son’s entire college career.

While not a rarity in Div. I by any means, it is tough, however, to find many cases where both father and son enjoyed parallel success on the court and along the sidelines (only Al and Allie McGuire at Marquette (1970-73) and Press and Pete Maravich at LSU (1967-1970) in a different era stand out).

It also makes clear the Orange staff is busy readying its answers to the questions being posed by recruits and their parents and coaches to eventual succession plan among the current assistants, but that story has been muted by the necessitated changes in how recruiting is being conducted while schools remain closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

» Related: How much do Syracuse basketball players benefit from redshirting?

Prior to Jim Boeheim taking over in 1976, he served under Roy Danforth for seven seasons. During the final season, 1975-76, Danforth coached his son Mike, a reserve guard who had played on the now-defunct junior varsity team as a ‘Cuse freshman the year before.

Mike Danforth would officially score one basket (against Div. II Stonehill College) in seven games played in his SU career, before transferring to Tulane in the spring of ’76 when his father took the Blue Wave job which came with the instant promotion of also being named the school’s athletic director. The younger Danforth averaged just 1.6 ppg in two years at Tulane.

These four former Syracuse assistant coaches also have basketball coaching ties with their respective sons:

Rick Pitino (1976-78) – Son Richard is 145-122 in eight seasons coaching at Florida International and currently Minnesota with one NCAA Tournament victory.

Brendan Malone (1978-1984) – Son Michael is 434-222 in six NBA seasons coaching Sacramento and currently Denver, with one conference semifinal appearance.

Ralph Willard (1986-87) – Son Kevin is 237-180 in 13 seasons coaching Iona and currently Seton Hall with one NCAA Tournament victory.

Louis Orr (1996-2000) – Coached his son Chauncey at Bowling Green between 2011-14, where he averaged 8.0 ppg the first two seasons under his father, before an injury cut short year three.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.