Syracuse Orange men's basketball head coach Jim Boeheim held a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Carmelo K. Anthony Center, where he discussed both his upcoming 16th Annual Basket Ball Gala and the almost-completed 2014-15 season.
The sold-out Basket Ball will be held on Saturday, April 25 at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY. The charity event will benefit the Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation, which "strives to enrich the lives of kids in need in our Central New York Community, as well as, provide support for eliminating cancer through research and advocacy."
Boeheim used the beginning of the press conference to promote the event, but then spent the remainder of the time discussing basketball and Syracuse's 2014-15 season, which will end Saturday after the Orange's game at NC State. Part of the way through, SU center Rakeem Christmas joined his coach at the podium.
Here are a few notes from the press conference:
1. Boeheim clarifies comments:
Following his team's 59-47 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers on Monday, Boeheim said he wasn't sure how the team had managed to win 18 games this season. He attempted to clear up those comments Wednesday.
"To get to 18 wins, I'm as proud of this team as I am of last year's team, when we won 29 games," he said. "I think this team has had to dig through a lot of difficult moments."
In discussing his team's accomplishments, Boeheim cited Syracuse's wins over Iowa, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, and Notre Dame -- all four of which should make the NCAA Tournament. Boeheim also called the loss of Chris McCullough "devastating." The freshman tore his ACL in January during a win over Florida State.
2. Acclaim for Rakeem:
Boeheim had high praise for Christmas, who ranks third in the ACC in points per game, fifth in rebounding, and second in blocked shots. The coach said Christmas has impacted this year's team as much as any Syracuse player has ever impacted a team.
"It's not just the points, the rebounds, the blocked shots, which are very substantial," he said of Christmas' contributions. "But it's the double teams he drew, which got guys really good looks at the basket. There's not any statistical category for that, but there's no question that that's what occurred.
Boeheim also spoke highly of the big man's NBA prospects, saying that the league "needs big guys" and that Christmas has the ability to play both the power forward and center positions in the NBA.
3. Despite the ban, effort hasn't wavered:
Syracuse self-imposed a postseason ban in early February, but Boeheim claims he saw improvement in his team even after it knew the NCAA Tournament wasn't a reality.
"I'm proud of the way we've played, especially late in the year," he said. "Even though we've lost more games, we've played better."
Boeheim said that even in the loss to Duke on Valentine's Day and in the two losses to Pittsburgh, he felt the team played as well as it has all season.
4. Rakeem's emotions:
Christmas said that despite it being the last time he will play for Syracuse, he isn't preparing for Saturday's game at NC State any differently and that his emotions will have to wait until after the contest.
"I treat this game like any other game I've treated this season," he said. "I just go out there, play my game and do what I have to do."
5. Joseph's struggles were to be expected:
Boeheim said that Kaleb Joseph's struggles have been "normal" for a freshman point guard and that the New Hampshire native struggled with his confidence throughout the season. Boeheim then said he believes Joseph is a hard worker and that the point guard will improve his game, starting with his shooting.
"He's not a bad shooter," Boeheim said. "...He just hasn't been able to translate it into the game. In fact, I think he's a better shooter than some of the freshman point guards we've had, who were pretty good...I think it should be a strength of his game."
Boeheim said that another key for Joseph will be using the offseason to get stronger.
6. Boeheim has "no idea" what his team will look like next season.
Boeheim said he expects the team will go through "tremendous changes" in the offseason and that he has "no idea" which players he will have next season.
"You never know who's going to be here," the coach said. "...I thought Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis were going to be here this year. They aren't."
For what it's worth, there have been rumors that either B.J. Johnson or Ron Patterson will transfer from SU to make room for coveted recruit Thomas Bryant, whom Syracuse is a frontrunner to sign.