I wondered yesterday if it might at all be in the cards for Jim Boeheim to step up and shoulder the blame for NCAA violations that led to the Syracuse Orange self-imposing a post-season ban on itself in 2015. In his first public comments since the news broke, Boeheim made it clear that...nope, probably not.
"You can't wait and say, 'We'll take it next year,'" Boeheim said, responding to critics who say the sanctions were conveniently timed. "You have to take it. Everybody is talking about the record, and that doesn't matter. I feel we have every opportunity, great opportunities, to get into the tournament. Everybody says we haven't beaten a ranked team, well, we've played two. Villanova was in overtime at their place and they're in the top five or six in the country. So why can't we beat a good team?""We are not out of it," Boeheim said. "Do you know how many teams think they can go to the NCAA now that have eight, nine losses? It's ridiculous to say we can't go. Many times teams take a year penalty when they have a record of 5-15. They have no chance to go to any tournament. We have every chance to go to the NCAA and the NIT, and we would certainly go to the ACC. We're giving up something right now. It's a serious punishment. It's a harsh punishment."
We're one day in and Boeheim is already playing defense. Zone, I assume.
"That's the other thing that really upsets me," Boeheim said. "Some people think that it's no loss that they can't go to the ACC Tournament or an NIT. Well, yeah, that is a loss. Your younger players need to play in an ACC Tournament. It's good for them, and it's good to play in the NIT. We don't have all veterans. We have one senior. So a team like our team, if we were in the NIT, could play three or four games, and that could be valuable."
This is true, but, not really the point, you know?
"I think 99 percent of our season-ticket holders come to all our home games and don't go to the NCAA tournament," Boeheim said. "Their investment is watching this team playing and they're getting to watch our home games. There's no getting around this. Things don't go your way in life. Sometimes it's fair and sometimes it's not fair. Our kids are focused on being the best they can this season. They're fighters. I'm confident they will fight every minute the rest of the way this season."
Did Boeheim just trot out the "Home games vs. Virginia Tech are more important to SU fans than NCAA game" argument?
Jim added that he "can't imagine it will be more than a week or two" before SU find out it's whole fate. Expect to hear a whole lot more of Jim Boeheim's thoughts about the reaction to SU's position after the Pittsburgh Panthers game.