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Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim "Happiest He's Been" on Selection Sunday

Coach is pretty happy about the outcome, obviously.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Syracuse Orange were invited to this year's NCAA Tournament, we didn't get the assured Jim Boeheim tour of anger and raking the NCAA over the coals that would have ensued. That's a bummer in some respects, though obviously we'd prefer to be invited. Jim still provided a pretty jovial interview on ESPN after selections were revealed that still gave plenty of opportunities for some digs (which he happily took).

To local media, however, he was much more focused on what SU did to get in. He even shared a surprising note (true or not):

"This is the happiest that I've been on Selection Sunday in all my years of coaching. I couldn't be happier for this group. Obviously, it's been a very difficult, tough year. A lot of ups and downs. A lot of tough, tough games."

"There's been a couple years that I thought we were going to get in that we didn't get in. Those are crushing, crushing years when that happens. This year, I wasn't quite as optimistic probably, so I'm happy. I wouldn't have been quite as much as a couple of years.''

And could you blame him? As recently as this morning we weren't too sure of Syracuse's chances ourselves. In fact, your author was pretty sold on us being clearly left out during the early parts (pre-leak) of the selection show. My dog was pretty sure we were headed to the NIT to play Hofstra. If the coach of the Orange, who knows this team better than any of us, was unsure, we were well within our rights to be as well.

Boeheim went on to discuss the role the Battle 4 Atlantis had in his and other teams' from that tournament's roads to the NCAAs. He attributes that stretch -- and the wins they picked up against Connecticut and Texas A&M -- as the main reason the Orange were dancing. He wasn't too far off either. NCAA Tournament Selection Committee chair Joe Castiglione said as much to ESPN last night, listing SU's five top-50 wins (and not Boeheim's absence) as the reasons for their invitation. Boeheim himself had similar suspicions afterward, as he told attending press at SU.


If nothing else, this Orange team getting to the NCAA Tournament allows the Syracuse coach to put the focus back on the players, whom he's tried to fight for all year. It's a side that those who follow the program closely know is there -- the coach who's truly cares about these players. But with the constant scrutiny Orange basketball always seems to be under, that can sometimes get buried by the soundbites, sideline faces and more.

"Obviously, when there's so much doubt and, I think, a lot of negativity, for these guys to overcome all that. I'm so happy for this team with everything that's happened this season; last season and this season."

"For Mike and Trevor to get back to the tournament is just crucial,'' he added. "It's just great. I couldn't be happier for them. Their leadership this year when we struggled was really tremendous. Like I said, I couldn't be happier.''

So yes, Trevor Cooney has a chance to rewrite his ending with Syracuse (much to the chagrin of many SU fans, for some reason...). And Michael Gbinije actually gets a chance to establish his own in the postseason. There's enough carryover on this team to remember the last Dayton loss just two years ago. It's unlikely Boeheim will need to remind the two seniors of what they lost out on last time. Hopefully we hear more about how Jim "couldn't be happier" come Friday afternoon too.