The Downside of JB | Syracusefan.com

The Downside of JB

SWC75

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(companion to "The Upside of JB)

- For all the success, it just seems we should be at least a little better than we are. This is the ideal situation for a college basketball program. There is no direct competition from pro sports or even from another top college program in the same state. It’s a small city, (but still a city) that knows SU basketball is what puts it on the map. We buy 20,000+ season tickets a year and can still put 30,000 in the stands for most games, (we AVERAGED 29,918 fans for the 1989-90 season). Nobody can top the fan support the team gets here, (even if it’s not always as vocal as it should be). While Central New York is not a rich source of talent, the ‘Cuse is within range of many hotbeds of talent and has established many pipelines to top schools. We’ve also proven to be a national recruiter when we want somebody. So why don’t we look at the McDonald’s All-America game and see at least 2-3 SU recruits every year? North Carolina one year recruited four five star players, (per Scout), the #1 point guard, the #1 shooting guard and the #1 power forward in the country. Why don’t we get classes like that?


- Jim Boeheim holds the NCAA record for 20 win seasons. Back when teams played less than 30 games a year, that was the standard of excellence. But these days, teams play 30+ games a year and winning 20 is still good but, not by itself, excellent. Now it’s aobut 30 win seasons. Rick Pitino has 8 in 26 years. John Calipari has 8 in 22 years. Roy Williams has 8 in 25 years. Jim Calhoun, who once had a six year stretch at Northeastern during which he went 74-75, has eight 30 win seasons. Mike Krzyzewski has thirteen 30 win years. In 38 years, Jim Boeheim has 6 thirty win teams. He’s catching up with three in the last five years. He’s also approaching retirement. We are very good at being good but not really great at being great.


- Final Fours: We’ve been to five, four in the JB era, once a decade. Duke has been to 13 Final Fours in that time, including seven in nine years from 1986-94. North Carolina has been to 12, including two in a row three different times. Kentucky has been to 8, including three in a row. Kansas, Louisville and Michigan State have been to 7 of them. The Spartans had a run of three in a row, as did UCLA, who has 5 Final Fours in the Boeheim Era. The more you can get to the Final four, the greater your chances of winning multiple national championships, with is our goal now. In fact, it’s become nearly as great an obsession to some as winning the first one was.


- In 2011 Jim Calhoun won his third national championship, tying him with Bobby Knight. Mike Krzyzewski has four, as does Rupp. Branch McCracken, Hank Iba, Phil Woolpert, Ed Jucker, Denny Crum, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan have two. Are they all better coaches than Jim Boeheim? Jimmy is tied with Howard Hobson, Bud Foster, John Bunn, Everett Shelton, Vadal Peterson, Doggie Julian, Nat Holman, Phog Allen, Ken Loeffler, Frank McGuire, Pete Newell, Fred Taylor, Don Haskins, Norm Sloan, Al McGuire, Joe B. Hall, Jud Heathcote, Jim Valvano, John Thompson II, Rollie Massimino, Larry Brown, Steve Fisher, Jerry Tarkanian, Nolan Richardson, Jim Harrick, Lute Olson, Tubby Smith, Tom Izzo, Gary Williams, Bill Self and John Calipari. That’s not a bad group but it’s time to move up in class.


- I mentioned we’ve had 14 Top Ten teams under Jim Boeheim. That’s very good but other teams have had more. Duke has had 24 top ten teams in the same period. North Carolina has 23, Kentucky 22, and Kansas 21. Are those schools really better positioned to attract talent than we are? The probation probably hurt us in that regard but those schools have had their down periods, too.


- SU owns all the Big East records for total wins in the regular season and the BET and almost anything else you want to compute over 34 years. But we’ve never really been the dominant team in our own conference. Georgetown was the dominant team in the 80’s with 4 regular season titles and 6 BET titles and a 19-8 record against us. SU won 3 regular season titles and 2 BET titles but they were clearly behind the Hoyas for the decade. And just as soon as we overcame them, here came Jim Calhoun’s Huskies, who have won 9 regular season titles and 6 BET titles to our 5 and 3 and who have a 24-18 record against us in that time. Our record in BET finals against the Hoyas and Huskies is 1-8. And in recent years we’ve had a big problem with the Pitt Panthers, who won 13 of their 16 against us, and Louisville who won 7 in a row. Nobody should be able to beat us that often. The tough, physical teams seem to intimidate SU. (Since I wrote this item in 2011 we have now moved onto the ACC, where I think our position will be one of a contender, rather than a dominant team. I just hope that there isn’t a dominant team. Off the historical record, I don’t think ti would be us.)


- Part of SU’s problem is the strange inability to achieve multiple goals in the same season. We gotten at least a share of the Big East Regular season title in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2010 and 2012. We’ve won the BET in 1981, 1988, 1992, 2005 and 2006. We’ve gone to the final four in 1987, 1996, 2003 and 2013. The only years we did two of those things were 1987 and 2003 and in both cases we just shared the regular season title, lost in the BET and then went to the final four. In neither case were we favored to go that far. The only SU teams to be a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament were the 1980, 2010 and 2012 teams. The first two were 30 years apart and both of which lost in the Sweet 16. The 2012 team lost in the Elite 8.


- That list of 27 All-Americans contains one player who really made it big in the NBA: Carmelo Anthony. Pearl Washington was a famous flop. Sherman Douglas and Billy Owens got off to decent starts but then faded. Derrick Coleman became a star but then had his career ruined by injuries. Rony Seikaly was a good, second tier center for a long time and Danny Schayes was a decent back-up center for even a longer time. The others were reserves at best or played most of their careers abroad. When we look at an NBA All-Star game, why don’t we see 1-2 SU alums there? I don’t think any of those 27 All-Americans has ever played on an NBA championship team and they’ve made very few appearances in the All-Star game. (One of the reasons why I can’t get into the NBA is the lack of a “cuse” factor, whereas the NFL always has numerous prominent SU alums, despite the lesser success of the football program). Shouldn’t the level of talent flowing through the Carrier Dome be at least the equal of any college basketball venue?


- On the flip side, there is the stain of probation on JB’s record. We all know the details. Alexander Wolff and Armen Keteyianwrote a book called “Raw Recruits” and focused a chapter on a “street agent” named Rob Johnson who had relationships with a number of schools and coaches but primarily with Syracuse at the time the book was written him. It was never pinned down that he did anything illegal but it caused the local paper to do an investigation of the SU program that bordered on the comic. But that relationship with Johnson convinced the NCAA that SU was guilty of “a lack of institutional control” and they gave us a relatively soft penalty, (missing the NCAA tourney for a year and losing a couple of scholarships). It’s likely everybody was using street agents at the time just because they got to the talent before the coaches did. Later the key thing was to develop a relationship with an AAU coach, or even hire them to be on your coaching staff. It’s no accident that SU’s recruiting perked up when Troy Weaver, with his AAU connections was added to the staff. We also suddenly developed a pipeline to Oak Hill, the top high school program in the country and Notre Dame Prep, the top prep school. That’s nice but you wonder what goes on there. There’s always something going on because basketball talent is a market like anything else and people are always finding ways to broker it. A successful coach has to deal with such people. Whoever succeeds JB will have to as well.


- One of JB’s albatrosses was that low graduation rate SU had when those stats first started getting published. Again, we know all the arguments. It was a small sample, (compared to what you’d get with a football team). It counted transfers and guys who jumped to the NBA as if they were academic casualties. It’s more difficult for basketball players to defer their studies for the “other” semester because the season is part of two semesters. The numbers have improved since the study. Still it wasn’t a very good advertisement for the program.


- Mason, (a couple of years ago), mentioned that he hears comments at the basketball related events he attends that SU has a reputation as a place that recruits problem players. And we have had some problems. DeShaun Williams, Billy Edelin, Louie McCroskey. Paul Harris has a history as well. Then we had Scoop Jardine’s relatives. Then Eric Devendorf’s confrontations. I’m not sure that the primary complaint is that SU or JB have mishandled the situations players like these have created. It’s just that they happened. We wait with bated breath each year to see who might be suspended. It’s sort of laudable that JB sticks with guys as much as he can. Nobody can say these players weren’t given a chance to straighten out and they have been disciplined multiple times. We have rules here. There hasn’t been anything like laptopgate and JB hasn’t turned into Jerry Tarkanian, recruiting drug pushers and samurai swordsmen to win games. Do we really want a reputation as a school that never takes a chance on a kid? Still, you wonder when something worse than we’ve had to deal with so far might happen.



- We so often seem to lack a “killer” instinct. We rarely seem to play 40 minutes with equal intensity, often play down to the level of our opponents and JB sees a lead as a cushion to be used to drain the clock, often going into a slow-down with several minutes to go in a game and depending on his players to make the smart plays needed to seal the win. To me a good lead is an opportunity to get a bigger lead and then send in the reserves to get them playing time. Rick Pitino said that you get 13 scholarships so you might as well use them. He likes to wear down the opposition and develop players. JB prefers to stick with his best guys. Both have been successful but I sometimes wonder what we‘d be like with a Pitino-like approach.


- I remember thinking in the 90’s that we were blessed with successful football and basketball programs but I wonder what the Dome might be like with a Steve Spurrier as the football coach, filling the air with footballs and using a Bob Stoops attack defense and then a Rick Pitino type as the basketball coach, pressing for forty minutes and reigning threes on the opposition. The place would be rocking for 6 months and top-level talent would want to come here to play that style of ball. Instead, we became known for conservative offensive and defensive schemes in football and had success for a time but the talent level declined and we suffered a collapse that we are now trying to recover from. In basketball, we used to be an exciting, fast breaking team, the college version of the Laker’s “showtime”. Boeheim subsequently became famous for his zone defense, which can be very effective but which slows down the game, (per Sports Illustrated, opposing teams this year took an average of 21 seconds per possession against us, the highest in the nation). Jim played a on a team that pressed for 40 minutes and scored 99 points a game but he doesn’t believe in the strategy himself. When asked why he allows the other team to dictate the pace, he said that there’s not much you can do about it. We didn’t do anything to create scoring opportunities beyond just running our normal offense. As a result we played nothing but close games and an injury or shooting slump turned us from a team that started 25-0 into a 3-6 team because there just wasn’t that much difference between our wins and losses. I’ve always thought one of the hallmarks of a great team is their ability to impose their will on the other team. Instead we allow the other team to make it the type of game they want and try to beat them at that their game.


- The teams that have had the most success against us have been the teams that bullied us. JB’s teams tend to be old-fashioned basketball teams that like to run the court and make moves and display their skills, (although the defensive conservatism causes us to get mired in half court games far too much). The increasing trend has been for players to add more muscle and play the game as if it were hockey or football, concentrating on aggressive defensive tactics and preventing the other team from playing their game. We occasionally have beaten teams like the old Georgetown teams, Calhoun’s Connecticut teams or the Pitt teams of this decade, but more often they beat us and often do it decisively. When we win it’s when they come down to our level and we make the plays to win a close one at the end. But we don’t beat those teams when they are at their best. They remain the “boss squirrels”. I don’t care for this trend toward physical basketball, (basketball should be a display of skills, not of muscles), but if that’s what teams are doing to beat us, we’ve got to match them, both in strength and attitude. (Since I wrote this in 2011 we’ve moved to the ACc and the NCAA is cracking down on bullying tactics, where were much less in evidence this year)


- I know it usually “works” in the sense that we wind up winning the game, but I just feel we slow the ball down too often and too early. We have too many games where the last 3-4 minutes of the game is a 2-10 run for the other team. When JB discusses it, he usually refers to doing it in the “last couple minutes of a game” but he’s often slowing it down with 4-5 minutes left or more. Then when his team loses a lead, he often says “the players have to realize that a (10, 12, 15 even 22- fill in the blank), lead is nothing”. Why doesn’t he realize that? Even when we win, winning by 5 when we were up 15 isn’t my idea of a great game-ending strategy. I think there should be a formula: divide the reaming time by 35, (and round up), and multiply by 3. If you have a lead greater than that, work the clock. That’s allows you to use up most of the 35 second clock, not score, give up a quick 3 and then do it again but hold onto the lead. You need to recalibrate this at the end of every possession, since a turnover or premature shot could change it. If you have a 15 point lead, you can stall if there is 2:55 left or less. Stalling with four minutes left would require a 21 point lead. Basically, if you are considering a stall, your lead is so big that you probably wouldn’t bother with it.


- One false criticism that you hear a lot is that JB doesn’t play enough guys and that the team collapses at the end of the seasons because of this. I’ve made a post called “All’s Well That Ends Well” looking at each year of the Boeheim Era and not finding a trend of end of season collapses. There were slumps, usually in January or February. Some teams were just never good. Our best teams avoided slumps. Virtually every coach plays everybody in November and December and goes with his most consistent contributors and his best combinations after that. The post season is about your starting line-up. The NCAA is two games a week. I kept track of the number of players who have averaged 10 minutes a game since 1982-83, the first year for which the stats are available. Three teams have had ten such players, (including the one two years ago). Four have had 9 such players, (including last year). 16 have had 8 such players, (including this year, counting Coleman who averaged that much before he was hurt). Seven had had 7 such players. One team had only six players average 10 minutes a game- the 1997-98 team, which went 26-9 and lost in the sweet 16. They won 6 of their last 8 games, losing only to Connecticut in the BET final and Duke. In those 32 seasons we’ve had 34 players average 35 minutes a game, (some of them the same player in different years). Two teams had three such players- 2000-1 and 2008-9. They went 25-9 and 28-10, respectively, hardly our worst. In 2001 we won 5 of our last 7 , the Shumpert eye-poke game to Pitt in the BET and the blow-out to Kansas, which was all about rebounding. The 2009 team won 9 of their last 11, including the 6OT game. We lost to Louisville in the BET final and to Blake Griffin and Oklahoma in the NCAAs. Eight teams have had two 35 minute players and twelve had had one. Ten teams have had no 35 minute players. As JB said, the players determine who will play. If 9-10 guys can help us, he’ll use 9-10 guys. If it’s 6-7 guys, that what he uses.



- He’s 69 and has been here for 38 years. Whatever it is, it’s not going to change. Whatever you think, you’re still going to think it when he finally heads for the golf course for good.
 
Great write-up on both, but it seems to me we have gotten away from problem players the last few years mcw's mall incident aside.
 
Great write-up on both, but it seems to me we have gotten away from problem players the last few years mcw's mall incident aside.

Some of this was written in 2011 but I left it in because there still might be a concern in that area. The nice thing aobut this eyar is that the only suspension was Jerami Grant for the Cornell game.
 
(companion to "The Upside of JB)

- For all the success, it just seems we should be at least a little better than we are. This is the ideal situation for a college basketball program. There is no direct competition from pro sports or even from another top college program in the same state. It’s a small city, (but still a city) that knows SU basketball is what puts it on the map. We buy 20,000+ season tickets a year and can still put 30,000 in the stands for most games, (we AVERAGED 29,918 fans for the 1989-90 season). Nobody can top the fan support the team gets here, (even if it’s not always as vocal as it should be). While Central New York is not a rich source of talent, the ‘Cuse is within range of many hotbeds of talent and has established many pipelines to top schools. We’ve also proven to be a national recruiter when we want somebody. So why don’t we look at the McDonald’s All-America game and see at least 2-3 SU recruits every year? North Carolina one year recruited four five star players, (per Scout), the #1 point guard, the #1 shooting guard and the #1 power forward in the country. Why don’t we get classes like that?


- Jim Boeheim holds the NCAA record for 20 win seasons. Back when teams played less than 30 games a year, that was the standard of excellence. But these days, teams play 30+ games a year and winning 20 is still good but, not by itself, excellent. Now it’s aobut 30 win seasons. Rick Pitino has 8 in 26 years. John Calipari has 8 in 22 years. Roy Williams has 8 in 25 years. Jim Calhoun, who once had a six year stretch at Northeastern during which he went 74-75, has eight 30 win seasons. Mike Krzyzewski has thirteen 30 win years. In 38 years, Jim Boeheim has 6 thirty win teams. He’s catching up with three in the last five years. He’s also approaching retirement. We are very good at being good but not really great at being great.


- Final Fours: We’ve been to five, four in the JB era, once a decade. Duke has been to 13 Final Fours in that time, including seven in nine years from 1986-94. North Carolina has been to 12, including two in a row three different times. Kentucky has been to 8, including three in a row. Kansas, Louisville and Michigan State have been to 7 of them. The Spartans had a run of three in a row, as did UCLA, who has 5 Final Fours in the Boeheim Era. The more you can get to the Final four, the greater your chances of winning multiple national championships, with is our goal now. In fact, it’s become nearly as great an obsession to some as winning the first one was.


- In 2011 Jim Calhoun won his third national championship, tying him with Bobby Knight. Mike Krzyzewski has four, as does Rupp. Branch McCracken, Hank Iba, Phil Woolpert, Ed Jucker, Denny Crum, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan have two. Are they all better coaches than Jim Boeheim? Jimmy is tied with Howard Hobson, Bud Foster, John Bunn, Everett Shelton, Vadal Peterson, Doggie Julian, Nat Holman, Phog Allen, Ken Loeffler, Frank McGuire, Pete Newell, Fred Taylor, Don Haskins, Norm Sloan, Al McGuire, Joe B. Hall, Jud Heathcote, Jim Valvano, John Thompson II, Rollie Massimino, Larry Brown, Steve Fisher, Jerry Tarkanian, Nolan Richardson, Jim Harrick, Lute Olson, Tubby Smith, Tom Izzo, Gary Williams, Bill Self and John Calipari. That’s not a bad group but it’s time to move up in class.


- I mentioned we’ve had 14 Top Ten teams under Jim Boeheim. That’s very good but other teams have had more. Duke has had 24 top ten teams in the same period. North Carolina has 23, Kentucky 22, and Kansas 21. Are those schools really better positioned to attract talent than we are? The probation probably hurt us in that regard but those schools have had their down periods, too.


- SU owns all the Big East records for total wins in the regular season and the BET and almost anything else you want to compute over 34 years. But we’ve never really been the dominant team in our own conference. Georgetown was the dominant team in the 80’s with 4 regular season titles and 6 BET titles and a 19-8 record against us. SU won 3 regular season titles and 2 BET titles but they were clearly behind the Hoyas for the decade. And just as soon as we overcame them, here came Jim Calhoun’s Huskies, who have won 9 regular season titles and 6 BET titles to our 5 and 3 and who have a 24-18 record against us in that time. Our record in BET finals against the Hoyas and Huskies is 1-8. And in recent years we’ve had a big problem with the Pitt Panthers, who won 13 of their 16 against us, and Louisville who won 7 in a row. Nobody should be able to beat us that often. The tough, physical teams seem to intimidate SU. (Since I wrote this item in 2011 we have now moved onto the ACC, where I think our position will be one of a contender, rather than a dominant team. I just hope that there isn’t a dominant team. Off the historical record, I don’t think ti would be us.)


- Part of SU’s problem is the strange inability to achieve multiple goals in the same season. We gotten at least a share of the Big East Regular season title in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2010 and 2012. We’ve won the BET in 1981, 1988, 1992, 2005 and 2006. We’ve gone to the final four in 1987, 1996, 2003 and 2013. The only years we did two of those things were 1987 and 2003 and in both cases we just shared the regular season title, lost in the BET and then went to the final four. In neither case were we favored to go that far. The only SU teams to be a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament were the 1980, 2010 and 2012 teams. The first two were 30 years apart and both of which lost in the Sweet 16. The 2012 team lost in the Elite 8.


- That list of 27 All-Americans contains one player who really made it big in the NBA: Carmelo Anthony. Pearl Washington was a famous flop. Sherman Douglas and Billy Owens got off to decent starts but then faded. Derrick Coleman became a star but then had his career ruined by injuries. Rony Seikaly was a good, second tier center for a long time and Danny Schayes was a decent back-up center for even a longer time. The others were reserves at best or played most of their careers abroad. When we look at an NBA All-Star game, why don’t we see 1-2 SU alums there? I don’t think any of those 27 All-Americans has ever played on an NBA championship team and they’ve made very few appearances in the All-Star game. (One of the reasons why I can’t get into the NBA is the lack of a “cuse” factor, whereas the NFL always has numerous prominent SU alums, despite the lesser success of the football program). Shouldn’t the level of talent flowing through the Carrier Dome be at least the equal of any college basketball venue?


- On the flip side, there is the stain of probation on JB’s record. We all know the details. Alexander Wolff and Armen Keteyianwrote a book called “Raw Recruits” and focused a chapter on a “street agent” named Rob Johnson who had relationships with a number of schools and coaches but primarily with Syracuse at the time the book was written him. It was never pinned down that he did anything illegal but it caused the local paper to do an investigation of the SU program that bordered on the comic. But that relationship with Johnson convinced the NCAA that SU was guilty of “a lack of institutional control” and they gave us a relatively soft penalty, (missing the NCAA tourney for a year and losing a couple of scholarships). It’s likely everybody was using street agents at the time just because they got to the talent before the coaches did. Later the key thing was to develop a relationship with an AAU coach, or even hire them to be on your coaching staff. It’s no accident that SU’s recruiting perked up when Troy Weaver, with his AAU connections was added to the staff. We also suddenly developed a pipeline to Oak Hill, the top high school program in the country and Notre Dame Prep, the top prep school. That’s nice but you wonder what goes on there. There’s always something going on because basketball talent is a market like anything else and people are always finding ways to broker it. A successful coach has to deal with such people. Whoever succeeds JB will have to as well.


- One of JB’s albatrosses was that low graduation rate SU had when those stats first started getting published. Again, we know all the arguments. It was a small sample, (compared to what you’d get with a football team). It counted transfers and guys who jumped to the NBA as if they were academic casualties. It’s more difficult for basketball players to defer their studies for the “other” semester because the season is part of two semesters. The numbers have improved since the study. Still it wasn’t a very good advertisement for the program.


- Mason, (a couple of years ago), mentioned that he hears comments at the basketball related events he attends that SU has a reputation as a place that recruits problem players. And we have had some problems. DeShaun Williams, Billy Edelin, Louie McCroskey. Paul Harris has a history as well. Then we had Scoop Jardine’s relatives. Then Eric Devendorf’s confrontations. I’m not sure that the primary complaint is that SU or JB have mishandled the situations players like these have created. It’s just that they happened. We wait with bated breath each year to see who might be suspended. It’s sort of laudable that JB sticks with guys as much as he can. Nobody can say these players weren’t given a chance to straighten out and they have been disciplined multiple times. We have rules here. There hasn’t been anything like laptopgate and JB hasn’t turned into Jerry Tarkanian, recruiting drug pushers and samurai swordsmen to win games. Do we really want a reputation as a school that never takes a chance on a kid? Still, you wonder when something worse than we’ve had to deal with so far might happen.



- We so often seem to lack a “killer” instinct. We rarely seem to play 40 minutes with equal intensity, often play down to the level of our opponents and JB sees a lead as a cushion to be used to drain the clock, often going into a slow-down with several minutes to go in a game and depending on his players to make the smart plays needed to seal the win. To me a good lead is an opportunity to get a bigger lead and then send in the reserves to get them playing time. Rick Pitino said that you get 13 scholarships so you might as well use them. He likes to wear down the opposition and develop players. JB prefers to stick with his best guys. Both have been successful but I sometimes wonder what we‘d be like with a Pitino-like approach.


- I remember thinking in the 90’s that we were blessed with successful football and basketball programs but I wonder what the Dome might be like with a Steve Spurrier as the football coach, filling the air with footballs and using a Bob Stoops attack defense and then a Rick Pitino type as the basketball coach, pressing for forty minutes and reigning threes on the opposition. The place would be rocking for 6 months and top-level talent would want to come here to play that style of ball. Instead, we became known for conservative offensive and defensive schemes in football and had success for a time but the talent level declined and we suffered a collapse that we are now trying to recover from. In basketball, we used to be an exciting, fast breaking team, the college version of the Laker’s “showtime”. Boeheim subsequently became famous for his zone defense, which can be very effective but which slows down the game, (per Sports Illustrated, opposing teams this year took an average of 21 seconds per possession against us, the highest in the nation). Jim played a on a team that pressed for 40 minutes and scored 99 points a game but he doesn’t believe in the strategy himself. When asked why he allows the other team to dictate the pace, he said that there’s not much you can do about it. We didn’t do anything to create scoring opportunities beyond just running our normal offense. As a result we played nothing but close games and an injury or shooting slump turned us from a team that started 25-0 into a 3-6 team because there just wasn’t that much difference between our wins and losses. I’ve always thought one of the hallmarks of a great team is their ability to impose their will on the other team. Instead we allow the other team to make it the type of game they want and try to beat them at that their game.


- The teams that have had the most success against us have been the teams that bullied us. JB’s teams tend to be old-fashioned basketball teams that like to run the court and make moves and display their skills, (although the defensive conservatism causes us to get mired in half court games far too much). The increasing trend has been for players to add more muscle and play the game as if it were hockey or football, concentrating on aggressive defensive tactics and preventing the other team from playing their game. We occasionally have beaten teams like the old Georgetown teams, Calhoun’s Connecticut teams or the Pitt teams of this decade, but more often they beat us and often do it decisively. When we win it’s when they come down to our level and we make the plays to win a close one at the end. But we don’t beat those teams when they are at their best. They remain the “boss squirrels”. I don’t care for this trend toward physical basketball, (basketball should be a display of skills, not of muscles), but if that’s what teams are doing to beat us, we’ve got to match them, both in strength and attitude. (Since I wrote this in 2011 we’ve moved to the ACc and the NCAA is cracking down on bullying tactics, where were much less in evidence this year)


- I know it usually “works” in the sense that we wind up winning the game, but I just feel we slow the ball down too often and too early. We have too many games where the last 3-4 minutes of the game is a 2-10 run for the other team. When JB discusses it, he usually refers to doing it in the “last couple minutes of a game” but he’s often slowing it down with 4-5 minutes left or more. Then when his team loses a lead, he often says “the players have to realize that a (10, 12, 15 even 22- fill in the blank), lead is nothing”. Why doesn’t he realize that? Even when we win, winning by 5 when we were up 15 isn’t my idea of a great game-ending strategy. I think there should be a formula: divide the reaming time by 35, (and round up), and multiply by 3. If you have a lead greater than that, work the clock. That’s allows you to use up most of the 35 second clock, not score, give up a quick 3 and then do it again but hold onto the lead. You need to recalibrate this at the end of every possession, since a turnover or premature shot could change it. If you have a 15 point lead, you can stall if there is 2:55 left or less. Stalling with four minutes left would require a 21 point lead. Basically, if you are considering a stall, your lead is so big that you probably wouldn’t bother with it.


- One false criticism that you hear a lot is that JB doesn’t play enough guys and that the team collapses at the end of the seasons because of this. I’ve made a post called “All’s Well That Ends Well” looking at each year of the Boeheim Era and not finding a trend of end of season collapses. There were slumps, usually in January or February. Some teams were just never good. Our best teams avoided slumps. Virtually every coach plays everybody in November and December and goes with his most consistent contributors and his best combinations after that. The post season is about your starting line-up. The NCAA is two games a week. I kept track of the number of players who have averaged 10 minutes a game since 1982-83, the first year for which the stats are available. Three teams have had ten such players, (including the one two years ago). Four have had 9 such players, (including last year). 16 have had 8 such players, (including this year, counting Coleman who averaged that much before he was hurt). Seven had had 7 such players. One team had only six players average 10 minutes a game- the 1997-98 team, which went 26-9 and lost in the sweet 16. They won 6 of their last 8 games, losing only to Connecticut in the BET final and Duke. In those 32 seasons we’ve had 34 players average 35 minutes a game, (some of them the same player in different years). Two teams had three such players- 2000-1 and 2008-9. They went 25-9 and 28-10, respectively, hardly our worst. In 2001 we won 5 of our last 7 , the Shumpert eye-poke game to Pitt in the BET and the blow-out to Kansas, which was all about rebounding. The 2009 team won 9 of their last 11, including the 6OT game. We lost to Louisville in the BET final and to Blake Griffin and Oklahoma in the NCAAs. Eight teams have had two 35 minute players and twelve had had one. Ten teams have had no 35 minute players. As JB said, the players determine who will play. If 9-10 guys can help us, he’ll use 9-10 guys. If it’s 6-7 guys, that what he uses.



- He’s 69 and has been here for 38 years. Whatever it is, it’s not going to change. Whatever you think, you’re still going to think it when he finally heads for the golf course for good.

My freshman year was the year after the national title. I remember thinking Syracuse was going to become the team of the decade right after with the recruiting class of Roberts, Watkins, Nichols, and mccroskey. They were all top 60ish recruits if I remember, but no class underperformed quite like that one in the mid oughts. I remember watching Syracuse play Notre Dame at the dome my senior year and it was still 3 years before JB went strictly to the zone. Notre Dame scored about 103 against us at home with harangody and mcalarney. It was one of the worst defensive performances I have ever seen a syracuse team put on. Individually the only player who matched his potential was Nichols from that class, and it took him a few years to get going (Trevor Cooney anyone). I guess what I want to say when I think about today, the program is in a lot better place than it was 7 or 8 years ago. The kids seem less selfish and I think although people still complain about not playing man to man dedication to the zone has helped us. We made the round of 32 this year, but I always thought we were a year away. There's no doubt our offense can be improved, but we had guys who could make shots throughout the mid to late oughts, but we weren't tough down low and our defense was never any good. We just made the elite 8 and final four the last two years. I think were on the cusp, but just remember sometimes the offense looks pretty, but if you can't guard a tree you won't win anyway.
 
My freshman year was the year after the national title. I remember thinking Syracuse was going to become the team of the decade right after with the recruiting class of Roberts, Watkins, Nichols, and mccroskey. They were all top 60ish recruits if I remember, but no class underperformed quite like that one in the mid oughts. I remember watching Syracuse play Notre Dame at the dome my senior year and it was still 3 years before JB went strictly to the zone. Notre Dame scored about 103 against us at home with harangody and mcalarney. It was one of the worst defensive performances I have ever seen a syracuse team put on. Individually the only player who matched his potential was Nichols from that class, and it took him a few years to get going (Trevor Cooney anyone). I guess what I want to say when I think about today, the program is in a lot better place than it was 7 or 8 years ago. The kids seem less selfish and I think although people still complain about not playing man to man dedication to the zone has helped us. We made the round of 32 this year, but I always thought we were a year away. There's no doubt our offense can be improved, but we had guys who could make shots throughout the mid to late oughts, but we weren't tough down low and our defense was never any good. We just made the elite 8 and final four the last two years. I think were on the cusp, but just remember sometimes the offense looks pretty, but if you can't guard a tree you won't win anyway.

Good observations.

The post-championship situation really seemed like a wasted opportunity - bad play at the wrong times, decent recruits who either didn't mesh with each other or didn't develop at the pace we wanted them to, and bad luck overall.

Then that post-'05 era really felt hopeless at times. I remember that Notre Dame game, and the one the next year (with blue jerseys), and the 2008 West Virginia game. Seemed like those programs were passing us and we didn't have much of a chance to beat them.

After 2009, everything turned on a dime. We had the right group of self-motivated players and the coaching staff handled them really well. The second half of this season was very disappointing, but hopefully we can bring back a lot of talent and keep this winning era going for awhile.
 
So what if Izzo has been to six final fours. JB beat him in a bunch of games played in November and December. BOOM.
 
Amazing writeup. My only disappointing stat is only 6 times in the Final 8...with 2 in the last 3 years to bring up that total. Doesn't negate any of the good stuff, but that one always sticks out to me.

In 2012 I remember saying to myself "I can't believe this is only the 5th time in 25 years, and 3rd in over 20 that we are playing during this weekend". With all the ups and great memories of the program, that just didn't seem right that it was such a rare accomplishment. Even in those years, the round of 16 wins were very close and tough wins (87 broke a tie late against Florida, 89 came back from way down against Missouri, 96 we all know the Georgia game, 03 Auburn hit like 100 3's in the last minute to cut it to 1, 2012 Wisconsin came to the last shot and survived a big hot streak).
 

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