Major Cardinal RED ALERT!
Last year’s team not only won 25 games, played exciting basketball, gave our fans some great comebacks in the KFC Yum! Center, played in a BIG EAST title game, and now we receive word yesterday that our players had the highest GPA of any basketball team in the conference last year. Congrats to all of our guys. A shout out to our academic advisor for basketball Anthony Wright for a job well done.
I started coaching in the BIG EAST with the likes of John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Rollie Massimino, Louie Carnesecca and P.J. Carlesimo. They were terrific coaches whose teams were going to play the same style year in and year out. The players would change but the offenses and defenses would be consistently fundamental.
Now comes a different wave of coaches, with the exception of course of one James Boeheim. Let’s take a look at two veteran coaches and their top twenty five teams this season.
Jim Boeheim hired me on my wedding night. We canceled our honeymoon and substituted it with the recruitment of Louis Orr out of Cincinnati. I was his first assistant coach along with Bernie Fine some 25 years past.
What makes him such a consistent winner? Let’s start with the 2-3 zone. Why has it been so effective? Well Jim will tell you from a scouting standpoint he has not seen one zone offense with as much screening or ball movement as man to man. He’s correct. Add the fact that he recruits players who possess great length to cover the bumps and make it difficult to attack inside. They also fast break well out of it, as they get excellent triangle rebounding. He gives his players the freedom to create on offense. All of his guys really enjoy playing for him. Highly intelligent, a great recruiter and an excellent strategist on the bench.
Let’s cover some things you may not know about Jim:
*He has a violent reaction when he eats anything that has nuts in it.
*He is an avid reader and watches old movies.
*He has incredible vision. Would make all the line calls down on my end of the court when I played him in tennis. Of course they would always go against me.
*I allegedly introduced him to his wife at a Kentucky party. When Jim met Juli, his life took on a whole new look. Old movies were out and his dress got a total makeover. Gone were the Wimp Sanderson plaid jackets. Now he wears Armani. Before Juli, Jim thought Armani was a wing player from Buffalo.
* In the old days Jim thought fine dining was a reuben sandwich at Danzer’s Restaurant (a local 70’s eatery in Syracuse). He now dines at white table cloth restaurants and knows the difference between Vitamin Water and a glass of cabernet! Only hip restaurants for him, top shelf Zagat approved. It took a Kentucky women to bring out the real Jim Boeheim .
The Hall of Famer is a 7 handicap in golf and just an all around great guy!
Let’s take a look at the 2011-2012 Syracuse team, ranked preseason #1 in the BIGEAST and #4 nationally.
2011 Record – 27-8 (12-6) Finished- 4th Big East #12 Nationally
Significant Returning Players
Kris Joseph 6-7 210 Sr 14.3 pts 5.2 reb
Scoop Jardine 6-2 200 Sr 12.5 pts 5.6 as
Brandon Triche 6-4 205 Jr 1.1pts 2.7 reb
Dion Waiters 6-4 215 So 6.6 pts 1.6 reb
CJ Fair 6-8 205 So 6.4 pts 3.8 reb
James Southerland 6-8 210 Jr 4.9 pts 2.3 reb
Mookie Jones 6-6 220 Jr 3.5 pts 1.1 reb
Fab Melo 7-0 245 So 2.3 pts 1.9 reb
Baye Keita 6-10 215 Jr 2.2 pts 3.7 reb
Significant Players Returning: 55.8 pts per game
Significant Players Lost: 13.1 pts per game (Jackson)
2011 Recruiting Class Rank: 10
They should be a tough, deep team in this year’s BIG EAST.
Now let’s take a look at Jim Calhoun and the UCONN Huskies:
I was a head coach at age 24 at Boston University. One would never guess that Boston University vs. Northeastern would rival Carolina/Duke or Louisville/UK in terms of bitter rivalries. But it was extremely intense. That’s when I first competed with Jim as a head coach. I like him more today than I did back then, and the feeling was mutual. We were runners back then, and in the mornings we would both venture out for our early run around the famous Charles River. Our paths would cross and both of us would drop our heads and totally ignore each other. I laugh today as I think back to those intense games. Every game was a near brawl, but they were fun for all of us in a much smaller venue.
Jim’s coaching this year was a masterpiece. I am not sure why people outside of Connecticut have not talked more about it. I never felt after winning five games in a row and capturing the BIG EAST Championship his team could advance very far in the NCAA tournament.
His third championship was his best coaching job. They were young and limited with not much low post scoring. I always felt that Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV) and Jim Calhoun at UCONN have done the greatest building jobs with a university built out in the desert and a Yankee conference university which has now won three NCAA titles.
Tough Irishman who does not care too much what you say about him. Deep down a real good guy and a family man.
Now let’s examine the #4 ranked team in the BIG EAST and #8 nationally.
2011 Record – 32-9 (13-4) Finished- 9th Big East #16 Nationally
Significant Returning Players
Jeremy Lamb 6-5 190 So 11.1 pts 4.5 reb
Alex Oriakhi 6-9 240 Jr 9.6 pts 8.7 reb
Shabazz Napier 6-0 170 So 7.8 pts 3.1 as
Roscoe Smith 6-8 205 So 6.3 pts 5.2 reb
Niels Griffey 6-7 210 So 2.2 pts 1.4 reb
Tyler Olander 6-9 225 So 1.5 pts 1.8 rebs
Significant Players Returning: 37.2 pts per game
Significant Players Lost: 33.7 pts per game (Walker, Coombs-McDaniels, Okwandu, Beverly)
2011 Recruiting Class Rank: 32
UCONN could have the preseason player of the year in Jeremy Lamb along with Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs.
Next week we will concentrate on Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers and Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats. Also, I will discuss this weekend’s practices. Speak to you next Thursday.