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Boeheim Has Proved Me Wrong - 03/29/13

In the very same building where they looked like dead men walking three weeks ago, the Syracuse Orange celebrated another trip to the Elite 8. But even before that brutal loss to Georgetown in the last ever Big East regular season game, I believed this Jim Boeheim led bunch had no shot to make a serious run in the NCAA tournament. Not only were they losing games, but their offense was so inept that even their unique zone defense could not bail them out. But there is a reason Jim Boeheim's plaque is in Springfield at the Hall of Fame. He has a true belief in what he does, no matter the critics, and so far in this year's tournament, his players have backed up that belief

Thursday night against Indiana Boeheim thoroughly outcoached Half- Harbaugh Tom Crean. In fact, Boeheim helped Crean outcoach himself.  The Indiana players looked as if they were totally focused on trying to "beat the zone" and forgot how to play the game. Players let wide open 12 foot jump shots pass while trying to forced themselves into the teeth of the backline of the long SU defense.  Offensively, Michael Carter-Williams showed the NBA potential by willing his way into the lane and soaring over confused Hoosier defenders. SU dominated the game from the opening tip and was never challenged.

Maybe it's just me but I have even noticed a slight difference in Coach Boeheim's behavior. At the news conference on Wednesday he answered all of the questions with patience and thought. He gave only one very slight smirk and response (he usually lays out 3 or 4 of them per session) and seemed to be, dare we say, enjoying himself.  A year ago I was in Boston for his Sweet 16 news conference when he made a point of saying that coaching "was not fun". I hate to break it to him, but on the court in Washington he actually looked like he was having a good time (by JB standards)

Boeheim announced before the game that he was coming back to coach next season.  A lot can certainly happen between now and then (especially where the NCAA is concerned) but the win against Indiana was a statement game for the coach.  People, including yours truly, were doubting his methods in 2013.  Whether or not this bunch beats Big East buddy Marquette and goes to the Final 4, or ends their run on Saturday night, Boeheim has proved he can still get guys to play his way and make it work.  If asked Boeheim will say he had absolutely nothing to prove. But then again when he says that, looked for one of those classic smirks.

Mike Catalana

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