There’s plenty of reason for cynicism and distaste. Yet there’s also plenty of reason to feel proud of SU and what it has accomplished, beyond getting to college basketball’s biggest stage in Atlanta.
Most of it starts with Boeheim. The 50-plus years and 900-plus wins are staggering enough, but that’s just a reflection of his loyalty to Syracuse and Central New York, a trait rarely shared anywhere in the American sports landscape, college or pro.
That experience leads to virtues like patience and calm. In late February and early March, when the Orange appeared to be falling apart, Boeheim stepped in, took the heat, made everyone speculate about his future plans….all the while shielding his players and allowing them to regroup. Good stuff followed.
Another key thing that Boeheim has done is set up the program for the long term. All of his assistants – Hopkins, Adrian Autry, Gerry McNamara – played for him, so the school need not look outside its own family whenever Jim finally decides that full-time golf is more appealing.
Contrast that with the volatility, instability and hypocrisy seen elsewhere in college hoops. The volatile part is symbolized by Mike Rice, the disgraced and dismissed Rutgers coach whose cringe-inducing tirades and behavior has tarred an entire school that must now deal with tons of collateral damage.
Instability is found in the rush of players heading off to the pros, whether they are ready or not, or the transfers of players who aren’t happy for one reason or another. With that, it’s tough for fans to develop bonds with the guys they cheer on from the stands.
And the hypocrisy mostly stems from coaches pledging loyalty one minute, as Steve Alford did signing a 10-year contract extension at New Mexico, and then jumping ship the next minute, as Alford did running to UCLA less than two weeks after signing said extension.