The Atlantic Coast Conference held its annual Media Day in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday. The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was represented by head coach Jim Boeheim along with players Buddy Boeheim and Bourama Sidibe.
As is tradition, program representatives fielded a mélange of questions — some serious, some not. Much attention was centered around the upcoming season along with topical subjects such as Name, Image and Likeness.
The elder Boehiem’s discussion was focused around NIL, but the head coach also addressed last season, the state of college athletics and how the 2-3 zone came to be the primary defensive scheme at SU.
See full transcript on that conversation below.
Q. Coach, from the podium. Last year 18 wins against 10 losses when everyday last year was such the unknown as everything unfolded on an hourly basis. 18 and 10. Is it fair to use the word success as —
JIM BOEHEIM: Well I think when we were at this time last year we were hoping to play a game, so any games played were success. And obviously, the way everybody persevered and got through the year and to play — we obviously played really well at the end of the year, which is when you really want to play well.
But it was a great year just great for college basketball to be able to get through last season, and hopefully we’re at the threshold of a much better experience this year for the players and for the fans.
Q. Jim, Mike talked a lot about where we are in college athletics and suggested even a need for autonomy for college basketball as we look at the governance structure. What do you think about the state of things and how critical is it especially that coaches’ voices are heard in all these major conversations?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, I think obviously we’re at a crossroads in college athletics. And the initial moves, the recent past with Oklahoma and Texas, it’s just obviously — college sports is crying out to figure out what the next move is. You know, I’m not going to sit here and think I know what the next move is. But it’s — there needs to be a major movement in college sports that needs to get done sometime pretty soon.
People have talked about it for a long time.
And I’m not going to say that’s some kind of separation from the NCAA. People talk about that. I don’t know enough to figure that out. But certainly I think for a long time we’ve all known that we need to figure out what’s — there’s different groups. There’s 350 schools. The same things don’t apply to all 350 schools.
So how do you figure that out?
I think there’s people working on that. I hope there’s people working on that. But I thought there were people working on the NIL too. They never got anything done. So it is what it is. You adjust as a college coach. The transfer portal is here. It’s something you just adjust to. And we all will. The bigger schools will end up getting better out of it. The transfer portal will be better for the big schools. Most things are anyway, but this will really be better. When you need players, you just go out and — it’s been proven this off season the top schools really picked up some really good players. Smaller schools get hurt by the transfer portal. But it’s nothing new there. And I think the transfer portal is really good for some players. It’s really good. I think it will be really bad for some players. But it’s just the college decision, some of the decisions go to the college and some are really bad. It’s tough. Tough decisions. But we definitely need to figure out what the alignment is in the future. I think coaches need to be heard a little bit.
But we’re not going to — what happens isn’t going to coach from coaches. It’s going to come from the presidents of schools and I don’t think the presidents have the appetite to do what’s right but we’ll see what happens moving forward. I don’t know what will happen. But the NIL is something that is going to need to be figured out. It’s not — I don’t see how it ends well in any way, shape, or form. I think if it was — the NIL was organic and kids just got what they could get, that would be great. That doesn’t happen. It’s already not happening. And it will be even worse in the future. So — I don’t know what can be done about that either. But you don’t like to talk about problems when you have no solution. But I certainly — I don’t think anybody has a solution for it. And we’ll see where it all goes.
Q. I’m going to ask Buddy and Bourama something because they look sort of bored sitting up about. Bourama, I’m curious how your knee is doing. And both, I’m curious about how your initial impression of how practices are going?
BOURAMA SIDIBE: I’m doing really good. Looking forward for this season and we’ll see.
BUDDY BOEHEIM: Yeah, practice has been great. Starting up last week, I think we’re two weeks in now and a lot of intensity. Energy is through the roof. The best energy I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here, and just a really exciting group and really competitive.
So we’ve got some great additions, four really good guys that are all going to help us a lot. And just a veteran team I think one of the most veteran teams in the country. So it’s definitely going to be a fun year and we’re just all itching to get to playing but practice has been competitive and high level.
Q. Buddy, Bourama, this is for you. You heard Coach talk about NIL. Just your thoughts on it. Buddy, I know you’ve got involved with it. What you can say about name, image and likeness from your standpoint, and players, how you’ve seen it firsthand with some of the opportunities?
BUDDY BOEHEIM: I mean, personally for me it’s been a very good experience just getting to interact with fans doing different things, like Cameo, just doing videos for people and just trying to make their day, whatever it may be. Put a smile on their face, doing signings whatever it is, doing some fun stuff with local companies.
A fun video and just different fun stuff. So helping people in my corner has been great. It’s been a good experience so far.
BOURAMA SIDIBE: I’m doing a couple of them but they’re not made in the U.S. here. They’re in Europe. One is in France one is back home, so I haven’t even studied it. I asked Buddy how he feel about it and he guided me a little bit about it.
JIM BOEHEIM: I think the biggest problem is the inequity. One person gets stuff and nobody else does, or two guys. It’s just — I don’t think people understand the whole experience right now in college. I’ve tried to ask some writers to write about it. Nobody wants to.
Players are getting a lot of money right now that they never got before. I don’t think the average person on the street knows that. I think there’s people in college that don’t know that. But because of the cost of attendance and the way meals are now provided, players can get — I know it’s as low as $400 a month and it’s as much as $2,000 a month, and that’s without Pell Grants.
So there is money flowing to college athletes right now. Has been. And nobody seems to write about that or want to talk about that. I don’t know why. Seems like it’s some information that should be out there.
And then — but the problem with the NIL is obviously certain players are getting the money. I think our players understand that buddy had the year he had, and so he’s getting this stuff. Some players are getting a little bit. It’s going to change. It will gradually change over the years when — I think companies get more aware of what they can do or what they could do.
And again, with NIL, organic growth of it is fine. It won’t be that way. It will be staged in the future. It already is. But it will be more so I think in the future.
Q. Coach, Syracuse is known for their zone defense. I was just wondering, when did you first learn the zone defense, and why has it been so successful throughout the decades?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, I’ll give you the short — I won’t give you the book answer. I played zone in high school. Was successful with it. We played some when I was in Syracuse. It was successful for us. When I started coaching, we used both defenses. And they were successful. We were successful, very successful defensively. We had some of the better defensive teams in the early seasons of the Big East. With both defenses, as time went on, we gradually — we were 50/50, 70/30, back and forth, and eventually number of years ago, the zone was the most effective defense for us one year.
And then it stretched into two years. And it’s continued to be our most effective defense. We work man-to-man defense every day in practice, but the zone has been our most effective defense, so we’ve used that the most.
So it was an evolution. And we play it because I think it’s our best defense.
Q. I kind of wanted to ask you, how do you manage player expectations with NIL? You were talking about the inequities part of it. So when you have players like buddy who are getting more notoriety versus other players, how do you kind of just keep their head out of it? Because I know that it’s noticeable. How do you keep that together, I guess?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, it’s a great question. The players understand under the current system, I don’t have any affect on NIL. So they’re not going to come to me and say, Well, coach, do something about this because they know I can’t do something about this.
I don’t know, Bourama is right here. Are you jealous that Buddy gets more money than you guys? I don’t know. I never asked you that. Have I?
BOURAMA SIDIBE: Of course not. Of course not.
JIM BOEHEIM: I’ll put you on the spot.
BOURAMA SIDIBE: I mean, if he makes good money, that’s his money, man. I can’t get jealous for that. He works for that.
JIM BOEHEIM: I mean, I think that our players understand. We talk about it. Other players are getting some. It’s really unfair with international players not being able to get any of the NIL money, and that needs to — we’re waiting for Congress for that.
Well, good luck, you know. Good luck with that one.
Yeah. That’s an unfortunate part, really. That’s why the Supreme Court decision with the academic money being available in the future could go to every player. That would be really welcome, I think. The international players could get that as well, not just — even though they can’t get NIL yet.
But, yeah, I mean, it’s — I think the players understand this is the way it is.
You know, the difference in pro sports — in pro sports the quarterbacks get 30 million but the best tackles get 15, 14. The best. So I’m sure those tackles are not that jealous of the quarterback. They’re getting 15. But when one guy gets 100,000, other guy gets nothing, that’s problematical to me.