Jim Boeheim has coached over 1200 basketball games and was never ejected once…until yesterday.
Arguably, when the Duke Blue Devils traveled to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse earlier this season, it may have been the best game of the 2013-2014 basketball season. The date was February 1st. The tip was at 6:30pm. And it was the first game of the ACC’s newest classic rivalry, between two of college basketball’s powerhouse programs, Duke versus Syracuse. It truly was a game of the ages. Syracuse beat Duke 91-89 in overtime, in a thrilling Saturday night contest. At that time Syracuse was the number two team in the country, undefeated, and making a statement beating the mighty Duke Blue Devils, who even though were ranked 17th at the time, with an extremely talented yet young team, are always a tough out. The game was tight throughout. Duke’s Rasheed Sualamon hit a three at the buzzer to send the game into OT. Some will say Cuse got all the home calls that game, especially a controversial one in the final period. Duke’s Rodney Hood missed a dunk with 12.2 seconds left in the game where there was obvious contact by Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas. Hood wanted a foul, but didn’t get it. Freshman Tyler Ennis sank two more free throws and the Orangemen walked away with a signature win. After the game, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said the following, It was just a great game,” “I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a better game in here where both teams played at such a high level. Both teams just went after it. We’ve had a lot of games that have been here that are great. There’s never been one as good as this one.”
Fast forward three weeks to last night and the much anticipated rematch. Different scene for this one. This was Syracuse’s first visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Cameron crazies were more than ready for this game. It doesn’t take much to get that fan base riled up for a game. You know they were going to be on point for Syracuse’s first trip to Coach K Court. Syracuse came in as the number one ranked team in the country and Duke was ranked 5th. Cuse was coming off their first loss of the season to Boston College earlier in the week, and Duke is rounding up into their annual tourney form. Something had to give between these two juggernauts in Cameron. I just didn’t think it would come down to normally calm, cool, and collected Jim Boeheim losing his cool to determine the outcome. Duke defeated Syracuse 66-60 last night in another highly competitive game. I would take watching Duke vs Syracuse any day of the week if those games played out the way these past two games in this newfound rivalry have. The game was fairly close throughout. Duke, who had been down throughout most of the first half, seemed to gain control in the second half. But Cuse, kept fighting back. Duke was up 60-58 when the wheels fell completely off the bus. And Boeheim was the driver. Syracuse star CJ Fair made a great move down the baseline, and layed the ball up with his left hand. Rodney Hood got to his spot on the baseline to position himself to take the block. Fair made the hoop and seemed was going to be headed to the free throw line for his three point play. But instead official Tony Greene called a charge on fair and Boeheim blew up. The Cuse coach was fired up, stormed off the bench to get into Greene’s face and argue the call. Expletives were spitting out of Boeheim’s mouth. In all of my years of watching college basketball, I have never seem Jim Boeheim lose his cool like he did in Cameron yesterday. Greene slapped Boeheim with two technical fouls and Boeheim was ejected from the game with 10 seconds left to play. Quinn Cook hit three free throws for the Blue Devils and the game was then over. Duke went on to win 66-60. Another classic game won’t be remembered for the great team play by both teams down the stretch but instead will be known for Boeheim’s tirade. Crazy thing is, it looked like Hood’s feet were moving. It was a very hard call to make with 10 seconds left and a 2 point game. Call it a “Cameron” call. Remember that missed Hood call in Cuse a couple weeks before? Payback’s a bitch. I went to Maryland. I have seen the Terps get robbed of calls in Cameron for years. Get used to it Jim.
Cardinal rule in basketball as a coach is don’t ever lose your cool. There are consequences for doing so. Although many in Syracuse land will applaud Boeheim’s fire and passion, which were completely understood, his actions cost his team a chance at the game. It is undetermined whether or not Syracuse would have won this game. If that call was reversed, Cuse would have been tied with Duke, with the possibility of being up 1 with 10 seconds left. Clearly, the outcome, could have been different. But if the call wasn’t reversed and Boeheim doesn’t blow his top, Cuse is still only down two. They could have fouled quickly and played out the remainder of the game. Syracuse would still have a chance. But instead, Boeheim screamed, yelled and jumped up and down at the refs in a rage, got himself T’d up twice, and gave Duke four free throws plus the ball. Lights out Syracuse. Jim Boeheim had never been thrown out of a game before. It was odd to see him lose his cool in a game of this magnitude. After the game, Boeheim said, “I just thought that was the worst call of the year, that’s all.” “I hated to see the game decided on that call.” It wasn’t the worst call of the year, by any means. It was a controversial call and a tough one, but Boeheim knows better. He blew it and he cost his team the game. Syracuse has lost two straight and has Maryland, Virginia, and Florida State remaining on their schedule. It’s a tough stretch for a team that was undefeated for three fourths of the season. I think the Orangemen are starting to feel the pressure. Even though Cuse was undefeated for awhile, they were never really dominant. They had very close wins against NC State, Notre Dame, and Miami, all average or below average teams. Cuse’s star freshman Tyler Ennis had an awful game vs Duke and has been in a shooting slump for his past five games. Sophomore guard Trevor Cooney has also been struggling with his shot of late. You want to be playing your best ball rolling into March, but Syracuse is showing the nation that they have some holes in their armor.
Jim Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach, who knows the game of basketball. I have no doubt that he will get his team motivated and ready for this stretch run into the ACC and the NCAA Tournaments. Syracuse will always be a tough out due to the tenacious 2-3 zone that they play, but teams may be starting to figure them out at the right time. But I guarantee you won’t see Boeheim leaving the bench area anytime soon in close games. Syracuse doesn’t have that much room for error. Welcome to the ACC boys.