NCAA countdown: No. 10 Syracuse
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: Jim Boeheim turns 69 next month but persists he’s just as passionate as he was in 1979 before his first season as the head coach at Syracuse.
“It might not look like it, but it’s still there,” confides Boeheim, the third winningest coach in college basketball history.
Boeheim’s retirement plan — a seemingly inexhaustible story line that’s hovered over recent college basketball seasons — is quite simple: He’ll retire when he doesn’t feel like coaching anymore.
That’s unfortunate for members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Syracuse’s new home following the program’s move from the disintegrated Big East where Boeheim became a Hall of Famer.
The Orange will bring their vaunted 2-3 zone defense to the ACC to challenge kingpins Duke and North Carolina. Their backcourt is depleted with the loss of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, but they return a battle-tested frontcourt led by C.J. Fair, the team’s most steady producer the past two seasons.
Much will change for Syracuse in 2013-14, as the Orange begin their inaugural season in the ACC — a move that seemed zany to Boeheim and fans alike at first. But with Boeheim roaming the sidelines, the program’s consistency doesn’t figure to take a huge hit one bit regardless of conference affiliation.
2012-13 in review: 30-10 overall (11-7 Big East), lost in Final Four to Michigan.
Tournament projection: At-large bid, No. 3 seed.
Coach’s corner: “The way I see it, we’re going from a very tough league (Big East) to another very tough league (ACC).The toughest level is what we’re used to. If it’s better for the fans and sells more tickets then I’m all for it. I think the best two conferences in the country have almost always been the Big East and the ACC. Now some of the best teams are in the same league together. I’m excited, the players are excited, we’re all excited.” — Boeheim, now in his 35th consecutive season as the head coach at Syracuse, and his 38th with the program.
Star watch: It starts with a deep, athletic frontcourt. Florida and Kentucky are the only two … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 10 Syracuse, click here.]