It is absolutely incredible.
Syracuse, New York. A private school in snowy, cold Upstate New York is about to have a head coach achieve his 900th victory, all at one school. Boeheim’s team, which is statistically in the top three in the country, is a desirable destination for every single recruit in the country. Year in and year out, Syracuse finds itself in recruiting wars with the country’s elite. High school player across the country decide where they want to play college basketball, and Syracuse University is almost always in the mix along with Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas, etc.
But how did we get here? How did Syracuse, a city that was known for teeth chattering winters come to find itself a part of the top five most wins for a program in the history of college basketball? Some would say the passionate fan base, who care more about this program than pretty much anything else in the area. Fans routinely pack the Carrier Dome, and it is easily considered one of the more difficult places to play in the country. Some say it’s the immense talent that Syracuse has every year, consistently competing for conference and nation championships. More years than not, the Orange are right in the thick of things throughout the year and in to March. Some even say it’s the Big East Conference, which has provided the most entertaining basketball in the land before its demise this year.
But none of those things would be possible without James Arthur Boeheim. This is nothing new to fans around Syracuse or even the country for that matter. With Boeheim inching in on taking over the number two spot for wins all-time by a head coach, it is about that time to re-document his success like we do every four years or so when he tacks on another hundred wins to his resume.
Jim Boeheim has done numerous things for both the University and the community. From a basketball perspective, he put Syracuse on the map. From a community perspective, Boeheim has promoted the game of basketball all over the city, including numerous projects to build basketball courts for kids to get outside and play. Throughout the city, Boeheim has worked with former players like Carmelo Anthony, Jonny Flynn, and Wes Johnson to do all kinds of work to encourage kids to practice and play the game they all love.
Jim Boeheim has done work regarding the game of basketball around the city, but his work against cancer is something that he takes tremendous pride in. His foundation is consistently one of the top contributors to the JimmyV foundation run by ESPN, and is always fundraising and fighting to help beat cancer. He takes as much pride in his foundation as he does on the court, and it shows with the number of events he runs for charity.
And that is just his success off the court. On the court, you can write the Orange in as a 20 win basketball team every preseason. Whenever anyone wants to critique the program, they always come out and do something remarkable, and that is a direct result of the leadership of the head coach. Following the 2007-2008 season, many fans believed that the Orange head coach had lost control of his team, and that players no longer listened to him following back to back NIT seasons. Some fans had decided in their minds that it was time for him to retire, and that Mike Hopkins would be the better leader for the program.
How did Boeheim respond? Two sweet sixteen appearances to go along with an elite eight run in the NCAA tournament, and two of the Orange’s most successful seasons in program history. The Syracuse basketball program is in the best shape it has ever been, and again is a title contender this season. At this rate, 1,000 wins will be here at the bat of an eye for Boeheim and the Orange. When asked about the 900th win coming up, Jim responded the only way Syracuse fans would expect him to:
”The sooner we get through it, the better we’ll be able to focus on the season,” said Boeheim, 899-304 for his career after his fourth-ranked Orange (9-0) beat Canisius 85-61 on Saturday night. ”This team does not care about how many wins I have. They care about getting the next win. That’s it. Everything else does not matter. It really doesn’t. I’m happy I’m still here.”
And it doesn’t seem like the head coach is going anywhere anytime soon.