“If they want you to cook the dinner at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries...”
Parcells made these comments as he was leaving the New England Patriots for the New York Jets and total control over player personnel decisions. Jim Boeheim like almost all college coaches has total control over player personnel decisions. The roster Syracuse basketball has for this season is the one Boeheim decided to go with to cook his dinner. So now that the first and second courses haven’t wowed his guests what options remain?
Lately the dish Chef Boeheim has cooked up has featured ingredients that have been built for the 2-3 zone. He’s stocked his pantry long, athletic players and figured out a way to muster up enough offense to garnish his plate. You had disruptive guards at the top making opponents pass the ball laterally instead of towards the rim. They were flanked by athletic wings who could cover ground and create havoc for opposing offenses and the middle was often patrolled by a rim protector who covered up holes that sprung up during the game.
Most of us have been at the grocery store and been unable to find an item we need for a meal. You might ask someone to check the back. you might turn to Google for suggestions and some of you will drive around town to get the exact ingredient you need. Chef Boeheim couldn’t find a number of standard items due to supply chain issues so he tried to improvise.
When his local Wegmans was unable to import that Slovakian spice which added zest to any dish, he found a home-grown herb as a substitute. When someone dipped into his pantry and grabbed ingredients he was letting age he quickly re-stocked with ingredients he’d seen used before. There were opportunities to search around for substitutes for what he was missing but Boeheim decided he could make it work. It wasn’t the meal he set out to cook, but he’s had success tossing things together and serving a meal guests rave about for years. Surely he could do it again, right?
So far what Syracuse is serving up glimpses of a meal to remember. There have been bites that were savored but those have been followed by pieces that were hard to swallow. Frequent customers have been left perplexed by the inconsistency from a place where the meal has always been reliable so now it’s uncharted territory.
It’s too late to scrap things and start over so Boeheim needs to draw upon his experience and find the tweaks to make this recipe work. Can he work his magic in the kitchen to blend what he has together to make the final course the one that people remember? He’s done it before but the timer is ticking and we’re waiting for the soufflé to rise.