Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim gets candid on GMac, portal, SU's season, Justin Taylor

Former Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim touches on Gerry McNamara, Justin Taylor, the portal and SU's season.
Former Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim touches on Gerry McNamara, Justin Taylor, the portal and SU's season. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Hall of Famer and former long-time Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim shared a lot of interesting stuff in a recent radio interview.

Boeheim, who during the 2023-24 season has served as a studio and in-game analyst for the ACC Network, recently chatted for about 20 minutes with Steve Infanti and Paulie Scibilia on their terrific ESPN Radio Syracuse program, “Orange Nation.”

His usual candid self, Boeheim touched on a variety of topics, including his former player and assistant, Gerry McNamara, becoming Siena's head coach, the transfer portal, Adrian Autry's first season at the helm of the 'Cuse and his search for a new assistant, and Orange sophomore guard/wing Justin Taylor, who recently entered the portal.

I highly recommend that you listen to Boeheim's interview with Steve and Paulie, and I'm sharing some highlights here.

Former Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim says Gerry McNamara will do well at Siena.

This past Friday, Orange associate head coach Gerry McNamara was officially named the next head coach of Siena, a school in Loudonville, N.Y., near Albany, that resides in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ("MAAC").

Boeheim says that GMac's competitiveness is perhaps unmatched in the history of the Syracuse basketball program. Boeheim added that McNamara loves to coach, teach and develop players, particularly guards. He has a great feel for the game - the big picture - and that's what will help make him a successful head coach, Boeheim says.

McNamara, who is also an ace recruiter with deep relationships among AAU and high school coaches, "understands what has to be done" to lead a program, and he's well-prepared to be a head coach, Boeheim added.

While seeing McNamara go is a loss for the 'Cuse, the Orange will be fine with Autry leading the charge on the Hill, Boeheim says. He noted that he believes Syracuse basketball, in the 2024-25 season, will have some good players returning, SU has two excellent commits at the high school level, and Syracuse basketball coaches should land a few guys out of the portal.

Boeheim said that McNamara's ultimate goal was to become a head coach. Orange fans should be grateful that we had him on the Hill for many years and be happy that he's received his first head-coaching position. Being his usual self, Boeheim added that any 'Cuse fan who isn't happy for GMac isn't really a Syracuse basketball fan at all. Lol.

As Autry looks to add a third assistant to fill the void left by McNamara moving on, Boeheim said that it could end up being someone within the Orange family or outside of it. Hire the best coach available, Boeheim said, based on system fit, recruiting focus and other criteria.

Since the news of GMac's departure has circulated, a lot of my fellow 'Cuse fans have noted that they'd like to see Autry bring in a coach to work with the team's big men who is a former power forward/center himself.

Boeheim dismissed that notion. "You don't have to be a center to coach center. You have to know how to coach."

While Syracuse basketball, in 2023-24, missed the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, the Orange did win 20 regular-season games for the first time in a decade. The 'Cuse, as I've said ad nauseam, had to deal with multiple injuries, a junior dismissed from the program, a relatively young roster, and a tough non-conference docket early on.

For those reasons, and given preseason expectations for the Orange from so-called experts, I've stated that Autry was stellar in his first season as SU's head coach. Boeheim echoed those sentiments, saying Autry did an "unbelievable job" in 2023-24.

"People should be rejoicing in Syracuse for the kind of year they had," Boeheim said, adding that he thinks Syracuse basketball will only get better in 2024-25.

Now, regarding the transfer portal, which opened on Monday, March 18, and will run for 45 days, Boeheim said it's just where we are in the sport of college basketball that multiple guys are likely to transfer out every season, whether for basketball reasons or otherwise.

To date, at least four guys on the Orange's 2023-24 roster have entered the transfer portal, and they are sophomore guard/wing Justin Taylor, sophomore guard/wing Quadir Copeland, sophomore center Peter Carey and junior forward Benny Williams.

Boeheim talked about Taylor a bit. He acknowledged that Justin maybe "didn't develop the way I thought he would," at least from a scoring perspective, but Boeheim says Taylor can do well at the collegiate level. He just needs to find the right fit.

Boeheim noted that Taylor plays really hard, something Autry has also stressed. Taylor does positive things that don't always show up in the box score, and he helped Syracuse basketball win some games this past term, Boeheim says.

"I love Justin Taylor. I hope he finds a good spot," Boeheim said.


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