Jim Boeheim’s ‘best season’ ends bitterly with his son benched


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Sitting next to his sons, Jim Boeheim was quick to assess the losing first season of his 46 years as head coach at Syracuse.

“This is the best season I’ve ever had,” the 77-year-old said Thursday after his team was eliminated by Duke in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. “I think that says enough.”

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Barring some sort of very unexpected playoff invite, Syracuse finished 16-17. The Orange struggled to close games all season, and again against Duke they faltered late, going 10-0 in the final 3:30.

Still, Boeheim was able to coach his two sons, Jimmy and Buddy, this season and at this point in his Hall of Fame career, no results were going to make that any less satisfying.

“Sometimes you don’t have to say a lot,” said Jim Boeheim.

The end was only bitter for the coach as ACC leading scorer Buddy Boeheim had to watch from the bench as his big brother did everything he could to upset the No. 7 Duke .

Buddy Boeheim was suspended by the ACC on Wednesday after punching Florida State’s Wyatt Wilkes in the stomach.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim looks toward a referee during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Syracuse, NY on Saturday February 26, 2022.
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Buddy attended the post-game press conference with his brother and father. He again apologized for losing his temper, failing to set a good example for children who looked up to him, and failing to help his team.

“It was just an honest mistake on my part,” Buddy Boeheim said. “I have to live with it, admit it and I’m not here to wonder if I should have played or if I should have been suspended.”

His dad wasn’t quite ready to move one.

Jim Boeheim conceded a blatant 2 could have been called on Buddy that would have resulted in an ejection on Wednesday. The Orange were already up 18 points midway through the first half, with Buddy scoring eight. They went on to win 96-57.

Officials completely missed the punch. No fouls were called and there was no video review, although Wilkes went down to the ground for a while.

“If it had been handled properly, if they would have watched the video – they’ve watched the video every time this year – the kid was lying on the floor. Wyatt was lying on the floor. And they’re going to punish these guys (the officials)? No, they’re not punishing those guys. They’re punishing that guy for not doing their job,” Jim Boeheim said.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton tried to diffuse the situation when asked about the punch after the game, praising Buddy Boeheim’s character.

Still, Jim Boeheim felt that Buddy had been hit with the maximum sentence: suspended for one postseason game when there was no guarantee he would play again.

“I’ve seen people tackle people, knock them down in the stands and get a one-game suspension, so he got the max for that,” Jim Boeheim said.

A senior, Buddy Boeheim’s college career exceeded even his father’s expectations. He became “Buddy Buckets” and his hard shooting led Syracuse to a surprising Sweet 16 run last season.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me on this journey. It was amazing. And I would do anything to wear this uniform… I really gave it everything I had every day “, said Buddy Boeheim, choking at the end.

Jimmy Boeheim spent his first four years in college at Cornell, becoming one of the best players on the Ivy League team before transferring as a graduate student to Syracuse this season.

He also proved himself a capable ACC player, and his final college game might have been the best of his career.

Jimmy Boeheim scored a season-high 28 points, going 6-for-9 on 3-pointers with seven rebounds while playing all 40 minutes against Duke.

“I wanted to do everything I could to give him one more (match),” Jimmy said of Buddy.

The Boeheim boys grew up around their father’s program, mopping floors and dreaming of one day following some of the great players they saw at the Carrier Dome.

“I know the standard that comes with it. Obviously we haven’t been up to it this year,” Jimmy Boeheim said.

Buddy Boeheim said: “It’s not the season we wanted. It’s obviously going to hurt forever. But other than that, there’s so many good things I’ve taken away from this season. Especially this season in playing with my big brother, who helped me get here; pushed me to improve every day.”

Jim Boeheim said he was never sure his son would be good enough to play in his programs, even Buddy, the more recruited of the two.

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“But they worked and became very, very good basketball players,” Jim Boeheim said. “They were being called Division II and III players by the social media people at Syracuse. I think we cleared that part up. So I’m really proud of how they got here. Not that they’re good, but how they got here.”

The Boeheim boys will move on now.

As for Dad, who ranks second in career wins (1,099) in NCAA Division I men’s basketball behind outgoing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,197), he’s not done.

“We are going to miss you guys,” said Jim Boeheim. “I will miss these guys a lot. You won’t see them, but unfortunately you will see me again next year.”


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