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Mike Hopkins On 'Responsibility' of Being Syracuse's Interim Head Coach

There's a difference between being assistant head coach and interim head coach and Mike Hopkins is learning it first-hand.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Hopkins will run the Syracuse Orange basketball program one day. I mean, he's running it today but that's not by choice. Hopkins is getting his head-coaching test run during a nine-game suspension for Jim Boeheim. So far it's been an up & down struggle and Hopkins isn't afraid to speak frankly about the emotions that come with this unique situation.

"It's the responsibility," Hopkins said, when asked about the difference between the assistant and interim chair. "We have Derrick Coleman and Pearl. ... You just want to represent them, you know? So, there's emotion when teams make runs or you feel like it's going the other way and you need to find ways to get that momentum back. That's the one thing, sitting in that seat, you feel momentum. You feel the crowd, you feel momentum, you feel those things. It's an incredible experience and I'm very blessed to have this opportunity. Like P90X, do you best and forget the rest, that's what I'm doing."

Just like games themselves, coaching is all about highs and lows and how you deal with them.

"It's a 40-minute game," Hopkins said. "There's going to be runs. You just have to relax, coach your team, possession by possession. People need to be built up, some people need to be yelled at, some people need to be plugged in. That's what coaching is. I think emotionally there's the highs and lows. As that, you learn that your stomach goes high and low. But for the most part, being under control in stressful situations. That's what I feel. It's not about me. It never has been. It's about our coaching staff and players and getting them to perform at their highest level. That's what I've learned."

Hopkins also shared some thoughts about what it means to be the head coach that, dare I say, sum up why his boss is not currently around:

"It's just being the head coach," Hopkins said. "Someone said, being the head coach, from the top down, it's a reflection of you from the coaching staff to the players. It's just a big responsibility. It's easy to say, 'Hey coach, I think this guy needs to go in, and he's making that decision.' You just feel it differently. I can't really explain it beyond that."