Orange Watch: Future of Syracuse basketball bright

Boeheim
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim speaks at 2021 ACC Tipoff.

Item: Before the first exhibition game Wednesday night against Pace College (7:00 p.m. ET/ACCNX) gives us the initial glance at the 2021-22 Orange basketball team against an opponent, Jim Boeheim was as candid as ever about both his coaching tenure and the program’s future outlook during last week’s media day.

With a 0-0 record and the fun atmosphere of the annual Orange vs. White intrasquad scrimmage to tip off the season the next event on his plate that evening, Jim Boeheim was humorous, objectionable, analytical, and sincere in his annual on-campus media session last Friday afternoon, with a couple of eye-opening points sticking out among the information he provided.

Not only is the upcoming season going to be fun to watch with an influx of transfer talent mixing with improved returnees, and the totally unusual scenario of the head coach, who’s been in the Hall of Fame 16 years and entering his 46th season overall, coaching his two college eligible sons (Jimmy age 23, Buddy soon-to-be age 23) for one season, but the future roster shapes up as potentially a juggernaut in the twilight of Boeheim’s career.

“We can’t talk specifically, but it’s the best recruiting class we’ve ever had, period,” Boeheim said emphatically. “(The class) may not have a superstar, doesn’t have Carmelo (Anthony), but top to bottom (the best). The five players we have are way underrated. It’s hard to get one guy at every position, but we did that.”

So, to review, the versatile recruiting class of 2022 consists of players that can play different spots on the court (indicated in parenthesis), and are likely the tallest and possess the longest wingspans of any class of recruits Boeheim has ever had in one group:

  • G – Quadir Copeland ​​(1/2), ​​​6-6/175
  • G – Justin Taylor ​​(2/3), ​​6-6/200
  • F – Chris Bunch ​​(3), 6-7/185
  • F – Maliq Brown ​​(4), ​​6-9/210
  • C – Peter Carey ​​(4/5)​​​, 6-11/190

“We have four guards for next year (with expected holdovers Joe Girard and Symir Torrence), that’s optimal,” Boeheim added. “I could not be happier with the guys that we got. I think we got some guys that are coming in that are really good. We got exactly what we went after and what we needed to get, and that very rarely happens in recruiting.”

» Related: Syracuse lands commitment from 4-star forward Chris Bunch

After Boeheim almost defiantly reiterated last week that he has not thought about retirement (“I told every recruit that we recruited this year that I’d be coaching them next year, I don’t have any plans to do anything differently.”), the thought process kicks in to whether Boeheim could reach a golden anniversary 50th season in 2025-26 as the program’s head coach.

We wrote about his amazing longevity in Sept. 2020, and there is simply no indication that he is following in the footsteps of recently retired Roy Williams, and soon-to-be retired Mike Krzyzewski anytime soon.

“The only reason why anyone’s talking about me retiring, the only reason, is because I’m older (he turns 77 on Nov. 17),” Boeheim said in one of his ornery moments last week.

“I don’t feel old, that’s why I’m still coaching. If I felt old, I wouldn’t,” he added. “I can do that (evaluate, correct, and improve players performance) whether I was 50, 70, 80, whatever. I feel the same as when I started. If you can do the job, and you like doing the job, why not do the job? (Retiring) that’s not something I’m thinking about, worrying about or have any thoughts about at all. None. Zero.”

Be patient, Gerry McNamara, (spotted dining with athletic director John Wildhack last week at Syracuse’s famed near westside breakfast nook The Gem Diner). You’re going to have to hold on for a few more seasons until the great Boeheim reign comes to an end.

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About Brad Bierman 779 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.