WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mike Hopkins stared at the table in front of him and didn't speak. After several seconds, he looked up, his eyes full of tears, to answer a reporter who had asked what it was like to not have Jim Boeheim on the sideline.
"I wanted this one for him," Hopkins said.
With Boeheim suspended for the first of nine games, Hopkins took his place as the team's head coach for the first time on Saturday and was emotional after Syracuse's 79-72 loss to Georgetown. But SU's players were complimentary of Hopkins' performance in the role, with some of them saying that nothing felt different.
Three minutes after Hopkins became teary-eyed the first time, he again got choked up when a reporter asked how difficult it was to be without Boeheim.
"Imagine if, all of a sudden, someone came and said you couldn't talk to your father for a month and you live down the street," he said before pausing to gather himself. "That's tough."
There were some marginal differences in this game in comparison to Syracuse's previous seven games. Most notably, Hopkins played freshman point guard Franklin Howard for 13 minutes, which surpassed his previous season-high of nine minutes.
Of course, that could have just been coincidental. Either way, though, we're likely to find out, since Hopkins will coach eight more games before Boeheim returns.
Here are some of SU's players' thoughts on Hopkins' first game at the end of the bench:
Dajuan Coleman: "He's been here for so long, so he knows everything Boeheim runs and the calls he makes. So it was normal, because every day of practice is both of them. It wasn't really that much of an adjustment at all."
Trevor Cooney: "It was the same. It really was. It felt the same. We prepared the same. We watched film the same. We did everything the same. We're fortunate to have a guy like Hop that's been under Boeheim for so long, and that's why everything was the same."
Michael Gbinije: "I thought he did a good job when we got down of being uplifting. He brought some energy for us when we needed it. He's staying positive with us, which I think is a good thing. He's just generally a positive guy."
Tyler Lydon: "He's been around for a long time. He's one of the smartest coaches I've ever been around. He knows what he's doing. For the most part, everything was the same."
Tyler Roberson: "Coach Hop did a great job. I think he'll do a great job going forward."