The Syracuse Orange hosted the Detroit Titans Monday night at the Carrier Dome, and squeaked out a 72-68 victory to give coach Jim Boeheim his 900th career coaching win. He is the third Division I men’s basketball coach to achieve the milestone, and the first to do it all at one school.
Jeremy Ryan was courtside for all of the festivities from start to finish, and here is his report card:
Head of the Class: Jim Boeheim
What is left that hasn’t already been said? Jim Boeheim IS Syracuse basketball, just like Mike Krzyzewski is Duke basketball and Bobby Knight was Indiana basketball. Boeheim has literally been the coach of the Orange for as long as I’ve been alive, and nearly every significant milestone in the program’s history has come under his watch. 1987, 1996, and especially 2003 – all of the great moments can be attributed to Boeheim’s dedication to his school, his fellow coaches, his players, and his fans. That is his true legacy at SU - more than wins, conference titles, or even a national championship.
And, at least publicly, Boeheim has said over and over that milestones like these don’t mean as much to him as they do to everyone else. You know what? I believe him. I’m not sure exactly why he continues to coach, other than because he simply loves to do it. He doesn’t need the money, doesn’t want the accolades, and doesn’t care about the numbers. He doesn’t even seem to be that interested in dealing with off the court issues anymore – if he ever was in the first place. He just wants to coach basketball and go home. Pretty simple, if you think about it.
James Southerland: James logged another excellent scoring effort off the bench, and carried his team late in the first half when things started to bog down. He finished with 22 points on 7-12 shooting, including a scorching 5-8 from deep and 3-4 from the line. No one else on the team had more than 12 points. After the game, Southerland talked about his offensive output. He said it "meant a lot" for him to shoot that well, and he felt like he needed to make a contribution on offense when the rest of the team needed someone to pick up the pace.
Doug Anderson: Doug impressed the Carrier Dome faithful with his high wire act, drawing a few oohs from the crowd with a series of dunks and lobs in traffic. He finished with 18 points on 9-16 shooting, and most of his buckets came from close range. There were representatives from ten NBA teams in attendance at Monday night’s game, and if they didn’t know who Doug Anderson was before they sure do now.
Michael Carter-Williams: MCW had a subpar (for him) game offensively, perhaps feeling a little pressure from the specter of the 900th win or maybe the NBA scouts watching his every move. He shot only 1-6 from the field for the game and had six turnovers, but made up for it with another 10 assists and a sterling 9-9 from the free throw line including a pair to ice the game in the final minute.
Stay After Class
Brandon Triche: Triche submitted his worst performance of the season, if not in years. He scored only 7 points in 29 minutes, and fouled out in crunch time forcing Boeheim to turn to freshman Trevor Cooney in the final minutes. Not the kind of clutch performance you’d like to see from your senior leader.
Late-game Execution: Triche’s game was a microcosm of the team’s effort as a whole. After being up by as much as 22 midway through the second half, SU’s offense stagnated and defense fell apart and allowed the Titans to get back into the game with a 16-0 run. MCW seemed to hold onto the ball too much on offense, and Southerland admitted they were so focused on Detroit’s shooters that they lost track of the penetration and gave up too many layups and dunks at the rim. Boeheim even mentioned some mental errors late, like a freshman (not sure who) taking the ball out of bounds after a basket and promptly turning the ball over. Mistakes like that can’t happen against a more talented Big East foe.
Final Grade: C+
As monumental as Boeheim’s 900th win is to the fans, I guarantee he’s more concerned with how the game ended. It took him longer than usual to get to the press room after the game, and I assume it’s as much because he was giving his players a piece of his mind in the locker room as it was any postgame celebration. SU has one more ‘quality’ opponent in Temple before the conference schedule starts, and I’ll bet practice this week will be a bit tougher after SU’s performance at the end of the game Monday night.
Jeremy Ryan is a writer/editor for CNYcentral.com in Syracuse. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyRyan44.