Posted by Justin Kundrat on December 14th, 2015
Jim Boeheim’s tenure is virtually unrivaled. With a laundry list of accomplishments including a national championship, 966 wins and four-time winner of Big East Coach of the Year over his 40 year career, Boeheim has been the face of Syracuse basketball for what seems like an eternity. Recruits, fans and opponents alike have all come to equate Syracuse with Boeheim, whether the result of the pesky 2-3 zone he implemented on the defensive end or the sideline tantrums he’s thrown in response to an unfavorable call. To say Boeheim has changed the landscape of college basketball would be an understatement. So when the NCAA chose to uphold its nine-game suspension of the renowned head coach for recruiting violations, the decision rippled throughout the program. It signaled not just a temporary problem but a structural one with many unresolved issues. How would the team perform in his absence, and more importantly, what is the long-term outlook with his inevitable retirement looming on the horizon?
The absence of Jim Boeheim is already having a huge effect on Orange basketball. (Getty)
With this news in hand, interim head coach Mike Hopkins stepped into the spotlight. Hopkins has been with Syracuse as an assistant coach since 1996, in the shadows cast by the monumental program Boeheim built. His intentions were the same, but the outcomes couldn’t have been any different thus far. Only days after the suspension, Syracuse dropped a road game at Georgetown. Then the following week, the team suffered tremendously in what was presumed to be a surefire win against a rebuilding St. John’s team. Two storied rivalries dating back to the beginning of the Big East and games that Boeheim undoubtedly would have cherished. Hopkins was noticeably emotional, not just because of the loss, but the thought that Boeheim could have done better. “He’s always with us at the end of the day… he built us, built the program. I wanted this one for him tonight,” said Hopkins. Read the rest of this entry »