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As requested - Doug Gottlieb's opus - setting the record straight.

I don't want to unnecessarily drag out the SU - Gottlieb cage match, but over on that Gottlieb smackdown Sean posted one commenter snarked about the lack of a factual rebuttal to the esteemed Mr. Gottleib's statements. In the interest of journalistic integrity I decided to investigate said statements and see if there were facts to dispute them with. Without further ado I present:

Sutton's numbers are almost identical, only he won at four different schools

Sutton: 25 Twenty-win seasons, 6 Sweet 16s, 3 Elite 8s, 3 Final 4s, no championship appearances or wins, .710 Win % (36 seasons) - Took UK to the brink of the death penalty for direct payments from school to players in 1989, arrested for DUI and admitted to drinking and taking prescription pills in 2006.

Boeheim: 34 Twenty-win seasons, 11 Sweet 16s, 2 Elite 8s, 3 Championship games, 1 National Championship, .747 Win % (36 seasons) [Syracuse was placed on probation in 1992 for "repeated and conscious efforts by representatives of the university's athletic interests to gain recruiting and competitive advantages in men's basketball" mostly due to players receiving free meals and discount autos from boosters] - 2 Olympic Gold Medals

(totals by round indicate terminal round, so the 3 Final 4s do not get listed as 5 Elite 8s, as some places do for example)

Most, if not all, of the other elite coaches preach and teach toughness. They are man-to-man coaches. They grind.

Ah yes, the "zone is for pussies" factual argument...

Jim Calhoun, for example, but Calhoun's teams were tougher, better in the tournament.

Calhoun "better in tournament" - 12 Sweet 16s or better

Boeheim actually better - 16 Sweet 16s or better

Boeheim routinely plays a weak non-conference schedule.

I don't hate Gottlieb or the snarky poster enough to pore over all the schedules and look at final SOS numbers for all the opponents. Let's take Joe Lunardi's opinion on the matter instead [ESPN Insider link - story from before 2011-2012 season wherein Lunardi lists SU's past 4 season non-conference schedule toughness tied with UConn for 6th place, between Michigan State and Michigan.]

Compare Boeheim's scheduling to Michigan State's Tom Izzo

Ahem, Lunardi just did - Boeheim was all the way back at 1 spot lower...

Sure, but had the Orange played tougher games before their conference schedule, maybe Boeheim would have developed the bench and ability to overcome adversity

Sorry, no "fact" to counter this one with, but let me clarify if I can - Is he saying that the guys on the bench would have been more likely to see playing time/gain confidence if SU's early games were tougher? Isn't this pretty much anathema to how all coaches substitute?

Through the downfall of Pitt, the disappearance of Boston College, Seton Hall and St. John's, the additions of Rutgers, South Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and DePaul, many schools -- ill-prepared to face better competition -- joined and lost in the Big East. Even Georgetown and Villanova have had dark periods. So the idea the Big East was so difficult to win games in rings more true in theory than reality.

Again, I don't care to go back over every past season, but I don't think I need to. The following chart shows the top 7 college basketball conferences as regards all-time NCAA tournament bids.

Bids by conference

Rank Conference All-time bids
1 Big East 374
2 ACC 235
3 Pac-12 226
4 Big Ten 224
5 Big 12 213
6 SEC 209
7 A-10 161

While the Orange have used the zone to be successful, including during their lone national championship run, who else has?

The under-appreciated "no one else does it that way so it must not be very good" argument. Can't factually dispute that no one else coaches the zone as well as Boeheim, though I don't really see this is evidence of his "lack of greatness..."

There's also the perception that players from teams that play zone are lazy defenders and lack traditional man-to-man principles.

Has he ever watched a Syracuse basketball game? The SU zone is anything but lazy, at least as coached. Do players sometimes get complacent and not execute? Probably. When they do what they have been coached to do and trap and extend all over the place does it in any way resemble laziness? Not to me, but I'm not a highly paid professional...

Either the players Syracuse recruits are overrated or they underachieve in terms of where they are drafted, which is reflective of coaching. . . Were they all a product of East Coast/Syracuse/Big East hype? Did they all underachieve because of their own failings?

It is well known that the job of every college coach is to make sure that their players are able to win at the next level, and not to maximize their abilities for the coach's own college team. I think this is how every coach runs his team... (Oh, yeah, he's also full of shit - at least according to Bleacher Report who ranks SU 8th in NBA talent in the last decade and Roland Beech at 82games.com examined the data I wouldn't and it shows SU ranks #20 from 1989 - 2008. I guess Top 20 isn't really great after all.

The NCAA tournament is random and produces outcomes not truly indicative of which team is best. . . Upsets happen, but more regularly to Cuse than other top programs.

*I am over 2 hours into this and only halfway through Gottlieb's manifesto, so I only compared this claim against one other coach - Gott's beloved Sutton.

In 29 NCAA tournament appearances Boeheim's teams have lost as the higher seeded team 15 times (52%). The average difference between the seedings for those losses is 5.2.

In 26 NCAA tournament appearances Sutton's teams have lost as the higher seeded team 12 times (46%). The average difference between the seedings for those losses is 3.9.

Yes, Boeheim's record is slightly (6%) worse. Is this minor difference (3 additional appearances for Boeheim -with 1 bonus Sutton appearance over Boeheim in the era of the NCAA tournament before seedings were enacted in 1978, with 3 additional upsets) enough to support this claim? Technically, yes.

In college, I played three games against Boeheim-coached teams. The second meeting, we played them on the first day of the expanded Big East tourney the next week at MSG. The narrative was essentially the same. Though we were only up a bucket at the half, we had no right to be in the game. Still the Orange downshifted, and we were out of the Big East tourney before some teams had arrived.

Ok, so you played against a Jim Boeheim team and held a halftime lead before getting crushed. And your point?

On the other hand, if we judge by championships and not other factors, the image outweighs the actual success. . . Some comparisons:

Yadda, yadda - among the coaches he chooses for comparisons are Tom Izzo (1 National championship), John Calipari (1 National championship, vacated appearances at 2 different schools) and Rick Pitino (1 National championship, 1 impregnated waitress in 15 seconds of Italian restaurant bliss). He claims championships are the judge of greatness, then gives 3/7 of his examples by naming guys with the same number of championships. Um, ok Doug.

This is not intended to rip Jim Boeheim, just a chance to differentiate greatness in coaching, leadership and program-building. Boeheim will get to 1,000; He seems healthy and with a vibrant young staff and a new massive challenge of a league, the Orange are back as title hopefuls.

I respect and admire the program Boeheim runs and the consistency with which he runs it. Boeheim is without question his own man, and I love that he is totally honest about his emotions and never makes excuses for who he is. This argument, like its subject, also states who Boeheim is and what his program has honestly accomplished.

Perhaps, but can you say it without any bias, Doug? I'll admit mine - I love Jim Boeheim. All my stats were pulled off the web though, and I bet you had access to them just like I did. Is he the best coach in the world? Even I won't say that, although I wouldn't trade him for anyone. Is he "great?" I certainly think so, and furthermore I think the numbers back it up - at least as much as they support Gottlieb's claim to the contrary...

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