Nothing earth shattering came out of ACC media day (and that was never an expectation), though it’s worth highlighting what Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim had to say during the event.
Particularly, Boeheim chatted led off his dedicated session talking about Frank Howard (who was in attendance) and how he compared to another Syracuse guard.
“Frank (Howard) is a player I compare a little bit to Scoop Jardine, who struggled his first two years and then had two great years for us and took us to the NCAA Tournament and a lot of wins. I think Frank struggled a bit in his first two years, and has shown signs of what he can do -- actually more signs than Scoop did at the same time. So I think Frank’s ready and I think he’ll have a big year this year. I’m confident in him.”
We all remember “Scoopid” and the venom that was once directed at the Syracuse guard who’s since become a beloved alum and ambassador for the program. I, myself, did not consider myself a Scoop fan for much of his time, but was won over in the end by his hard work and leadership.
Man-to-man murmurs got going at the event when Tyus Battle dropped a slight hint about it. But Boeheim was quick to laugh off the concept... mostly.
“Yeah, we might (see it). Anything’s possible in this world.”
As they were about to move on from the question, though, he doubled back to address what many (seemingly) fail to understand about the system.
“As far as it being boring, one of the things that people have not quite grasped yet is it’s much easier to teach zone defense than man-to-man. People look at it and think it’s hard to learn that. I can teach it to a high school team, junior high school team in about two hours. So I hope I can teach it to our guys in four weeks or so.
But man-to-man’s much more complicated, much harder to learn, with many many more different types/ways to play pick-and-rolls. There’s six different types of ways to play pick-and-rolls. There’s different ways to switch, not switch. Y’know, there’s so many different parts to man-to-man. Much harder to teach, much harder to learn. It’s much easier to learn the zone.
Our zone’s a little more complex, so it takes a little bit more than a couple days, but not that much longer.”
Discussing the process of recruiting graduate transfer guard Geno Thorpe from the USF Bulls, Boeheim did see it as a need-based move.
“We really looked at that position. We had three guards coming back, two with experience and a freshman. If you have one guy hurt, you really can’t complete a season, so we knew we had to get a guard. With Geno we found a guy who could play the point and could play the 2. So that was a big part of the decision to go after him.”
Boeheim also mentioned that he’s a better defensive player than he’d thought — that’s a good sign, considering it was a point of concern for some.
The ankle sprain news isn’t good (Thorpe’s been out dealing with it for eight days now), but apparently he’s returning soon. Let’s hope that’s the end of it.
Though Syracuse didn’t go on the summer foreign tour we’d campaigned for, it appears the program might have still gotten some cohesion and progress out of the hotter months. Boeheim mentioned that all four freshman arriving on campus in the summer allowed them to progress much further than you’d normally expect — which could play some big dividends early.
We’ve all made assumptions on what life would be like for Jim and Syracuse basketball without long-time assistant coach Mike Hopkins (who took over at Washington). And it ends up that the way Syracuse runs things, it doesn’t rock the boat all that much.
“It’s interesting. Mike was with me for a long time. Through the years, starting out with Rick Pitino, I’ve had so many great assistant coaches and Mike’s certainly one of the best I’ve had. The way we group -- each assistant takes a group -- so one guy doesn’t oversee it. So that didn’t change our recruiting at all.
Adrian (Autry) has been doing it and Gerry (McNamara) has been doing it. So we have two experienced guys who have their areas. And Allen (Griffin) recruited for the last six years in college. So we have three experienced recruiters -- and that’s what I’m most concerned with as a coach.
Then in practice, Mike worked with the centers, Adrian worked with the forwards, and Gerry worked with the guards, so none of that changed. Mike had his compartment, and Allen and I have been working with the big guys a little bit together since we have two young big guys.”
Given Boeheim’s experience at this point, there wasn’t a huge concern about the transition. Still, hearing it spelled out in such frank terms should probably give us some additional piece of mind.
Want to watch Jim’s session for yourself? Take a look. (also has anyone ever looked less excited to be somewhere?)