Basketball

Boeheim center of attention at Syracuse’s Orange Madness event to open 2012-13 season

Fifty years ago, Jim Boeheim was a freshman at Syracuse University. He would go on to walk onto the basketball team, playing three seasons and serving as a captain his senior year.

Those years helped set the foundation for his Hall of Fame coaching career. It’s a career that has seen him win 890 games, a national championship and eight Big East titles – all at Syracuse. The head coach is entering his 37th season at SU as he leads the program into its final season in the Big East.

At the team’s annual Orange Madness event Friday night, that history took center stage for a moment. Boeheim was introduced with a slide show of photographs, ranging from his playing days in the early 1960s to the last three-plus decades prowling the sidelines for Syracuse. He then rode to the Carrier Dome floor in a U.S. Army vehicle operated by soldiers from Fort Drum and Syracuse.

Upon his arrival, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney presented Boeheim with a plaque – a proclamation – listing off his notable achievements piled up in his 50 years being associated with Syracuse. The plaque declared Oct. 12, 2012 as “Jim Boeheim Day” in Syracuse.

The head coach addressed the crowd, speaking with pride as he held up his gold medal from the London Olympics before thanking the soldiers for their service. Without them, he said, simple everyday life wouldn’t be as easy and playing basketball wouldn’t be possible.

After his grand introduction, entrance and address, Boeheim watched his team scrimmage. The easygoing event provided some entertainment for fans, but it was far from an indicator of what to expect from a specific player or the team in general.

Still, Boeheim expects another winning season on the beat, and the talent is there to accomplish that feat and more. After 50 years, Boeheim remains a fixture in the community and the face of the basketball program he built into a powerhouse and maintained until the school announced its move to the ACC year ago.

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*Trevor Cooney showcased his long-range shooting ability and finished with 11 points (three 3-pointers) in the team’s scrimmage. Boeheim said at media day the guard benefited greatly from sitting out last season. His teammates lauded him as a knockdown shooter, and Boeheim made it clear Cooney is not just a shooter. He sees him as an all-around player.

*Jamesville-DeWitt product, freshman DaJuan Coleman, played strong and looked in shape to start the season. The center displayed his athleticism throughout the scrimmage and Boeheim said at media day that the 6-foot-9, 288 pound freshman is “more than ready to contribute.”

*Syracuse women’s freshman guard Brittney Sykes competed in the dunk contest, attempting to become the first Orange women’s player to dunk. Her attempts fell short as the closest the 5-foot-9 Sykes got to dunking would be grazing the rim with her fingertips. Sykes arrived at SU among one of the most talented freshman classes in the country. The McDonald’s All-American was also impressive during the women’s scrimmage, hitting shots from beyond the arc and battling down low for offensive rebounds and finishes. James Southerland defended his dunk contest title.

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