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Syracuse men’s basketball: As Adrian Autry takes over, Syracuse needs to give him the tools to succeed

Replacing a legend won’t be an easy task

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

We’re going to spend a lot of time discussing the fact that Jim Boeheim will no longer be the head coach of the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program. There’s obviously a lot to talk about and look back on after 47 years and we’ve got a long off-season ahead.

Today I want to talk about the new Head Coach, Adrian Autry. Over the last few years many have predicted that Syracuse would fall from it’s standing once Boeheim left. They have pointed to schools like Indiana or Louisville as cautionary tales. If you look at this season, both Duke and Villanova have had differing results in their first years under new head coaches.

So what can Syracuse do to help with Autry’s transition? For starters they need to undo the damage already done by yesterday’s awkwardness. It was weird to watch Boeheim give his post-game press conference and then a couple of hours later we got a press release with no quotes from him. Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News makes a good point about the missed opportunity.

“To acknowledge this gracefully would not really be Boeheim, though, would it? He sat there Wednesday afternoon with an opportunity to declare Adrian Autry as his successor, even to make it appear as though it were his idea, to have one of the many SU legends he helped create follow him with the plan to turn out many more.“

I will save the criticism of Boeheim for later, but I think the point is valid. Sitting next to Autry in Greensboro and making the announcement jointly would have given the world the impression that this was a choice Jim stood behind. It would lend Autry “the rub” that he’ll need when he sits down with potential staff members and recruits. Following a legend is difficult but doing so when it seems you don’t have their public blessing adds to the challenge. Contrast that to the way the torch was passed to Jon Scheyer or Kyle Neptune and you can see why it would help Autry to get a similar public showing.

(Note: A report last night said the plan wasn’t supposed to be announced yesterday afternoon, which would explain some of the awkwardness, but raises more questions).

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not too late to turn this around. Syracuse should get Boeheim and Autry together and hold a joint press conference. We certainly know about the raw emotion following a loss. We can understand if Boeheim left that media room and decided it was time to make the change. Sean put it best here:

Along with a stronger endorsement, John Wildhack needs to spend to bring an experienced coach to the staff to replace Autry. Michigan had Phil Martelli join Juwan Howard’s staff and it would make sense to have a former head coach be there to offer guidance to Autry. Being the Head Coach is as much about program management as it is about in-game strategy. Autry now goes from colleague to supervisor and that’s not always easy.

Along with staffing support, there needs to be a better coordination of NIL. Perhaps emerging from Boeheim’s shadow will allow Syracuse’s two collectives and Adam Weitsman’s efforts a better chance to work as one instead of competing for funds.

You’ve all read enough to wonder if this truly was “the plan”. It sure doesn’t seem that way from the outside and there’s no going back now. It’s not fair to Adrian Autry to have to spend the next six months with this cloud hanging over what should be a special moment.

He has time to shape the roster and the program in his vision. As fans, we need to avoid looking at every decision he makes and asking “Would Boeheim do it this way?”. We don’t know how he’ll do as Syracuse’s Head Coach but Autry deserves to have the chance to succeed. The job will be tough enough that he doesn’t need Syracuse to join his list of opponents.