Jim Boeheim on preseason optimism: ‘I made a mistake’
Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor
Before Syracuse ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press preseason poll, head coach Jim Boeheim created the buzz around his team before it ever took the floor.
In a video posted on ESPN.com, Boeheim was quoted as saying: “We’ve got everything. We’ve got depth. We’ve got shooters. We’ve got size. This is the best team we’ve had in a long time.”
Six months later, after Syracuse’s (19-15, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) season ended with a loss to Ole Miss (22-13, 10-8 Southeastern) in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, Boeheim looks foolish for making such proclamations. He knows it, too, and once again backtracked on the words he prematurely let slip out.
“I made a mistake,” Boeheim said. “I tried to be optimistic, which you cannot do in this town because people like you and other people go back. I already corrected it 10 times.
“On paper, looking at what we had coming in, we looked like we had more talent than we’ve had in a while. That’s exactly what I said. Not in Syracuse basketball history. In a while. After we started playing, I saw right away that we don’t have that kind of a team.”
Thirty-four games later, SU’s season is over. Five non-conference losses was the most in program history, and SU hadn’t lost 15 games since Roy Danforth finished his first year as head coach in 1968-69. Road struggles plagued the Orange all year as it went 2-11 away from the Carrier Dome, nullifying home wins over then-Top 10 opponents Florida State, Virginia and Duke. Syracuse blew its final chance to leave an impression on the NCAA Tournament selection committee, falling to Miami in the first round of the ACC tournament, essentially sealing its NIT fate.
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Injuries and unexpected hiccups for fifth-year seniors John Gillon and Andrew White hamstrung SU, but the Orange never seemed like it would approach the initial expectation of its coach.
“I should’ve learned 40 years ago but I got old and I forgot,” Boeheim said, “that I tried to be a little optimistic and that’s all anybody said the whole year. That’s why coaches never say anything optimistic. Ever.
“I made a mistake. That’s it.”
Even a month after ESPN published the video in September, Boeheim tried stepping back carefully on his words. When the head coach was asked about his statement at media day in October, Boeheim clarified that he said it “could be” one of his best team in a while.
“I said that one year and we only won about 18 games,” Boeheim said at media day. “So, I mean, could.”
The irony in Boeheim’s words couldn’t be any clearer with Syracuse’s 19-win year officially over. As it stands now, next season will be Boeheim’s last as head coach of the Orange. He said he’d like to bring in another recruit to complement the trio of commits he already has, but the learning curve for first-year players in his program was painfully evident all year.
Only one thing is for certain: Boeheim will never make a similar statement about his team again.
Said Boeheim: “I could have the Golden State Warriors next year here and I’d say I don’t how we’re gonna be. You can’t say something like (I did).”
Published on March 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm