Jim Boeheim Old School

Dad? Is that you?

We are gathered here today to mourn the death and celebrate the life of the Checkered Jacket.  I’ll pause for emphasis and visual stimulation.

Observe how the angles of the plaid pattern visually cue you to the diagonally striped tie, also a relic of the past.  Notice the tie’s Syracuse colors twirl your eyeballs up to GOOD GOD IT’S JIM BOEHEIM!  Clearly he’s attempting to carry his solidly defined 1970’s style into the year 1980.  How could you not play for a guy who looks like that?  You could almost caption his thoughts in this very moment:

Oh for Pete’s sake Danny, could ya at least TRY to box out in the paint?  That big oaf from Georgetown has been pushing you around all night!?!

As a young child (and as a teenager, and for that matter as an adult), my father would take me to basketball games galore.  Excluding the large amount of high school games I slept through, watched, scouted for, and eventually played in, I’ve seen probably more than the average fan’s worth of college basketball events, including Syracuse’s first and only NCAA National Championship win in the party city of New Orleans.  I remember walking next to Gerry McNamara in some mall and seeing Roy Williams in all Kansas warmup gear shopping the streets of upper New Orleans.  Little did I know that by the weekends end I would be solidified as a Boeheim devotee for life.

During one of my dad’s NCAA excursions in early childhood, I got my picture taken with my brother next to Boeheim, who at the time looked very similar to the above picture, though saggier in the face and had about 68% less hair.  Throughout the years, though his apparel has changed to more modern attire, I very much think that his coaching style and personality has remained old school in the best sense of the phrase ever since being hired as a graduate assistant coach for the Orangemen in 1969.

My main arguing point to the previous statement is this: Boeheim values the 2-3 Zone Defense like an Orthodox Jew who eats bacon every time a president is elected.  Not many coaches stick to their defensive schemes like Jimmy sticks to the 2-3, with the possible exception of the Man-to-Man-or else-I’ll-throw-a-steel-chair-at-you Bobby Knight philosophy.

The 2-3 is not an easy defense to master, much less teach a bunch of athletically gifted freaks of nature that always find their way to frigid Central New York.  The best zone defense is played with solid man-to-man principles, and Boeheim gets his guys to play zone the right way.  If you watch a game, you can observe that there is man-to-man coverage for every passing lane coming out of the ball handler.  When a pass is made, rotation occurs BEFORE the ball gets there, not as it gets there.  If the responsible defender is late, a proper transfer of assignment occurs seamlessly.  It’s really quite beautiful to watch when each Orange Man is doing it right, and it must frustrate the hell out of every opponent that they cannot play one on one ball against such a team.

I can vouch for the man’s honesty and sense of humor dealing with good buddy Kornheiser on the PTI show.  Give him five good minutes as he speaks about the pending move to the ACC.

I feel for the poor blokes at UCONN, Georgetown, Marquette, and select other Big East teams (no sympathy for Pittsburgh, you guys suck), but I can’t say I’m unhappy to see Syracuse play North Carolina, Duke, and Ronald Sanchez’s Cavaliers two times a year.  It’s arguable that there is a higher level of talent and competitiveness in the ACC, but at the very least I think it makes the program better.  No ACC tournament game will never out-do the six overtime thriller vs. UCONN, but hot damn it’s going to be a fun watch.

About: Esteban

Esteban is the Editor in Chief of Check out his page on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @RantingEsteban, or send him an email.

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