The Syracuse Orange defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, which was cause for celebration. It was also cause for SU Coach Jim Boeheim to go in on a recent column from Syracuse.com’s Bud Polquin.
Some may have read Polquin’s column about Orange basketball being in a three-year spiral since the end of the 25-game winning streak. TNIAAM readers may also recognize the angle since we (I) took the same one following the Georgetown loss last month. But that’s neither here nor there...
In a lot of ways, it’s good that Bud took on the question, because a) Jim doesn’t read blogs anymore so he never would’ve found our piece, and b) Jim decided to go in on Bud for the idea, instead of me.
It’s tough to rate this one in terms of all-time Jim pressers just yet. But at least from my time paying pretty close attention to these things (2005 to now), it’s up there. The video’s embedded below, but we break down the highlights (of which, there were many)...
“One quick thing...”
“When you go to the Final Four, you could lose 20 games. It doesn’t matter. Those are just numbers that you put in the paper. They don’t mean anything.”
“Mike Waters wrote a pretty reasonable article that you should read, because he explained what happened.”
Well that’s complimentary.
“Now I don’t agree with everything, Mike, but you made some good points.”
There it is.
“Last year was the fifth-best year I’ve ever had here. 40 years. Last year was the fifth-best year I’ve ever had here, If you just count wins, that means nothing.”
Bud starts responding... DON’T DO IT, BUD! SAVE YOURSELF!
“All that was stated... No, here’s what was stated: Bad three years. Because anybody that read that said that. Because I never read the blogs. I did because I wanted to see what people — everyone said the same thing. You’re putting numbers up and saying we had a bad three years... That’s what you did. They’re numbers that don’t mean...
We lost 14 games last year; one of the five best years we’ve ever had since I’ve been coaching here. And all that matters -- you know this — is what you do in the NCAA Tournament. That’s all that matters.”
This is a fair point from Jim, who despite his lofty win totals has been regularly panned by critics for not doing more during March Madness.
“Just ask Pittsburgh. And Virginia...”
“... who won 30 games last year if they wanted our year. All I’m saying is that last year was a great year. The year before that, we weren’t eligible for the tournament so losses don’t really matter.”
(raises hand, then quickly puts it back down)
“And I believe if we’d be eligible we would’ve won a game or two and gotten into the tournament because we’d beaten Notre Dame and Louisville. Just like we got into the tournament last year because — why? — we beat Texas A&M and Connecticut. So I believe we would’ve gotten in both years.”
There’s a debate to be had here, because I don’t necessarily agree that the 2014-15 squad was worthy of a bid at all. But now’ls not the time or place and Jim may find any post that insinuates he’s wrong about this and mail me a letter explaining why I’m very, very wrong.
“And this year could be a bad year, but it isn’t over yet. But when you just put number up... Sometimes numbers are right. If we didn’t get into the tournament last year, then you’d be right. You’d be 100-percent right, and I hate to say that.”
That last sentence may best sum up Jim’s general outlook on others’ opinions pretty well.
“But you would’ve been right if we had two years where we didn’t get into the tournament — I believe we would’ve gotten in both years if we hadn’t take ourselves out because I think we would’ve won another game. And last year was the best year we’ve ever had, I think, except for the championship. Because that team... I don’t want anyone to ever suggest that we were lucky.”
HERE WE GOOOOOO...
“Dayton won the Atlantic 10. Michigan State was really good and Middle Tennessee crushed’em... the whole game. And we crushed them.
Gonzaga: Seton Hall beat Villanova in the Big East Championship Game and Villanova happened to win the national championship last year; Gonzaga beat (Seton Hall) by 30. And we beat them.
Virginia had beaten us every time we played (that I can remember anyway), and we were down 16 points. (Virginia has) never lost a game when they were up 16 points, and we won that game. That’s not luck. There’s nothing lucky about any of that. Nothing. That’s being good.”
Jim clarifies that’s not a knock on Bud, just a knock on things he’s heard from others. He also tells Bud that if he was directing it at him, he’d be sure to point it out clearly.
Some other standouts from later:
“You took a numbers game and the numbers don’t apply anymore.”
“This is a press conference — you can say whatever you want.”
“I like when you (Bud) come (to the press conferences) because usually you don’t come, so I don’t have anyone to talk to... (you were) writing about some track runner or something, I don’t know.”
“The only thing that matters in college basketball is going to the Final Four. I’d rather lose 14 every year and go to the Final Four than win 30 and not make it to the Final Four.”
“I’m not up here to compliment you. You’re not down there to write complimentary things about me either. You write what you write and I say what I say.”
Also, this Hall of Fame exchange...
Bud: “The last three years —”
Jim: “Counting this year? Let’s take four years.”
Bud: “Let’s take it from Ennis’s shot (vs. Pitt)”
Jim: “Let’s take it from four years. Two Final Fours. Who else has gone to two Final Fours in four years?”
Bud: “I don’t know...”
Jim: “Yes you do, it’s in your paper. Read your paper.”
Bud: “The last three calendar years — February, March whatever to January”
Jim: “So you’re not gonna count the 19 straight we won before that?”
Bud: “I cited the five years before as being the ‘golden’ years.”
Jim: “We’ve actually had some better years, and we’ve had two years periods that were worse than the last two. Right, Mike (Waters)?
Mike: “I guess so.”
Jim: “You don’t know? This is entertainment. People pay to watch this, do you understand that?”
Jim: “People subscribe and I get critiques on my performance here. This is a good one because I’m happy for a change and the next one I might not be happy.”
And that’s how it’s done. Jim’s far from perfect, and there are certainly moments where perhaps you have some thinner skin about criticism and read a little more into the nuances of Bud’s article (poor performances against power conference teams for a three-year stretch). But still, this is what Jim’s always done, and we love and appreciate him for that.