Nate Shron | Staff PhotographerFinal Four
Not just yet: Boeheim reiterates he doesn’t plan on retiring
ATLANTA — The setting was different — the fourth city in as many weeks — but the questions remained the same. Jim Boeheim fielded multiple inquiries Thursday about if he will retire, when he will retire and for how long he has thought about retirement.
But Boeheim, the 68-year-old Syracuse head coach, remained firm in his commitment to the program he has come to define.
“I hear that lot, that question,” he said. “I answer it the same way. About 10 years ago, I thought it was my last year. I really did. I’m still here.
“I have no plans on retiring.”
Boeheim has seemed invigorated by his fourth trip to the Final Four and first since 2003. He is lively when he chats with reporters and appears to genuinely enjoy this postseason run that has crisscrossed the country before reaching Atlanta. In his 37th season as head coach, Boeheim looks poised for at least a few more.
Though this is his first appearance in the Final Four since winning his only national championship in 2003, it can be argued that the last four years have been one of the strongest stretches in his career. Boeheim referenced last year’s team and the 2010 team, both No. 1 seeds, as ones he thought were capable of winning the national title. And were it not for the ineligibility of Fab Melo and a knee injury to Arinze Onuaku, there’s a chance Boeheim’s fingers would boast more jewelry.
Now, in 2013, Boeheim has a third team in four years with the potential to win a championship.
“This team has played well,” Boeheim said. “I’m happy at this stage. We have a really good group, really easy group to coach. I don’t think I’ve raised my voice more than a couple, three or four times the whole year.”
But with every occasional comment about playing golf — see the postgame press conference after a loss to Georgetown in the regular-season finale — come occasional questions about his future. The coach who never thought he would make it to age 38 in the profession has made it to 68, and he has won 27 or more games for each of the past five seasons.
He joked Thursday about being offered a contract by Rochester decades ago, a move that he said would have helped his golf game with the legendary Oak Hill Country Club right down the street. At that point, he wanted to last five years as a coach. Then 10.
Now, maybe 40.
“Every once in a while I say, ‘(Retirement) is not that far away,’ and people get excited again,” Boeheim said. “People really used to get excited when I said that because we didn’t go to the Final Four that year and they didn’t want me back. But now the majority still probably wants me back next year — right now.
“After Saturday, who knows.”
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