SU Basketball: Jim Boeheim Is Right, Even Though We Can Probably Ignore Him

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A closer than anticipated win over Cornell had Jim Boeheim tempering everyone's expectations for the Orange. It's nothing new, of course, this whole losing players while battling expectations thing.

It's Jim Boeheim being Jim Boeheim in his purest form. Taking to a mic and announcing why someone, some group, or just everyone in general is wrong about something. It's as much a part of a Syracuse basketball game as the basketball itself.

I think the height of foolishness is to think that we're going to win 29 games and lose 2 or something like that.

He's right, too. Which is why watching Boeheim belabor a point at a press conference is so fun sometimes. This time the spot on rant was about Syracuse fans pumping the brakes, if only a little, when daydreaming about the Final Four and ACC championships. It's not that SU can't be that team to beat all those other teams, but it'll take time and I'm sure, especially given the schedule, it will take a few lumps to the head too.

Sure Orange fans saw a bunch of freshmen and sophomores win a national championship in 2003. And, yeah, the standard in college hoops has been lowered to the point that experience isn't too important a tangible quality any more.

Wait a second! Look at that quote up there and ask yourself, is that from this past Friday, after his Syracuse Orange men had to battle back to beat Cornell, or is it from 2012, or 2011, or...

See it? Boeheim tempering expectations of fans and media alike is all a part of the Boeheim package, like working officials and battering mics.

When you lose those two guys? And you're playing a freshman guard and a sophomore guard that didn't play last year. I don't know what people see. Maybe I don't know basketball, I guess.

All true.

But we heard something similar last season, right? That's because the Hall of Fame coach was replacing starters Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Fab Melo. Oh, and "reserve" Dion Waiters. That's a ton to replace, not to mention then turning the keys of the Jaguar over to the inexperienced Michael Carter-Williams. The end result? 30 wins and a remarkable run to Atlanta to crash the Final Four.

Wait another second! Remember in 2009-10? Gone was Johnny Flynn, to the NBA for a few cups of coffee, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris always bolted for different but probably similar reasons. Three key players from a Syracuse team that made it to the Sweet 16, this after having not even been invited to the Big Dance the prior two seasons. So how bad do Syracuse tank in '09-10 without Flynn, Devendorf, and Harris? Oh man, so bad. All the Orange could muster was a Big East title, a number one seed in NCAA tournament, and a Final Four run cut short by injury.

I would like people to be realistic," he said. "I think I like that better. It's like people that buy the lottery tickets. They buy the lottery tickets and think they're going to win. I mean, c'mon. How can you lose those players and think you're going to be better? That's just unbelievable. That's absurd. That's why I don't make predictions. I don't want to be that foolish.

It just makes sense, SU, with new faces in new places playing against top competition, will probably be on the wrong side of the scoreboard more than a few times. So Boeheim doesn't want to be "that foolish" which means he can hedge his bet a little, but that doesn't mean fans have to. Boeheim has seen it all, and, more importantly, he's been through it all. He's been at the practices, in the locker rooms, in the huddles, he knows his team. So when he says it's not realistic for this version of Syracuse to be top-10 already, I'm sure he's saying that because he believes that. Because Tyler Ennis has a lot to learn, because the rotation still needs to be tweaked, because C.J. Fair has to get used to the spotlight, because...well, because this team has a ton of variables.

But we already knew that. Just like we knew it the last four or five seasons. There are always variables. But what seems to be the constant is talent on the floor and Boeheim on the sidelines. Plus, Syracuse is kind of in a renaissance even though it keeps losing big name players, there's a run of top tier recruiting classes and continual top-tier rankings. There's been Michael Carter-Williams and Fab Melo and Dion Waiters and Tyler Ennis plus a couple of Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight, and last season's Final Four.

I guess Syracuse is spoiling everyone with constant change covered up by constant winning. I've been watching Syracuse for a few decades now, and maybe you've been on board for four or five, and I can tell you this five or six year stretch may be the best in the program's history. And that's why Boeheim is telling fans to relax, while totally understandable, is just about impossible -- there's been too much winning!

Which brings us back to Syracuse basketball itself. With the ball, the hoops, the giant S on the court, the fans and their expectations, and the winning despite change, and, last but not least, Boeheim himself. It always has to come back to Boeheim. His mic skills at delivering his "get off my lawn" messages during post game pressers, trying to lower expectations off the court , and working so hard on the court to raise them. It's just what he does.

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