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Jim Boeheim’s affinity for Italian food and other anecdotes explained in Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Basketball: In The Zone

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You can’t judge a book by its cover. Nor can you judge an Italian restaurant by its geographical location.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four-Syracuse vs. Arizona State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

To this point, much has been written about Syracuse Orange head basketball coach Jim Boeheim. Classics like Color Him Orange have already been told and Boeheim himself penned his own autobiography, Bleeding Orange just a few years back. But newest to the shelves these days is Donald Staffo’s book Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Basketball: In The Zone.

The book just dropped last month and encompasses the entirety of Boeheim’s seemingly infinite coaching career at Syracuse as well as his life before and outside of the program.

Anecdotes and interesting personal stories are told of Boeheim by his former players, teammates and those in media, including a tale that might explain this whole Boeheim and Italian food thing. As has been documented to this point, Boeheim is a big Italian food guy (read: he mostly eats chicken parm). But In The Zone offers perhaps a precursor to Boeheim’s affinity for the western European cuisine.

When Boeheim was an assistant coach at Syracuse back in 1972, he used to room with Don Lowe — the athletic trainer on staff — on road trips. On page 52 of the book, Lowe begins talking on how Boeheim was always reading on road trips and enjoyed movies. On one particular trip to Denver when Syracuse was playing in a tournament, Boeheim instructed Lowe to find a good restaurant in the area and when the latter began to list Italian restaurants, Boeheim rebutted “‘An Italian restaurant in Denver? Are you kidding me? It can’t be any good.’”

But apparently Lowe went anyhow and met the restaurant owner at one of the Italian haunts in Denver, who just so happened to be from New York City. The owner instructed Lowe to bring Boehiem to the establishment, and once it was eventually brought to Boeheim’s attention, he wasn’t impressed but decided to give it a shot.

Boeheim apparently enjoyed it enough to go back for two nights in a row. So, maybe that’s why Boeheim is willing to eat Italian in non-conventional places. Dollars to donuts he still ate chicken parm though.

The book is littered with other amusing anecdotes, including a time when Boehiem was out at a gathering in Skaneateles and was disinterested in talking to any of the guests so he went by himself to watch a Mets baseball game in a spare office.

In The Zone is on shelves and available now for order on Amazon. With the holiday season upon us, it might not be such a bad gift idea.