Boe­heim out to join Krzyzewski, Knight

Coach is one vic­tory from be­com­ing third mem­ber of ex­clu­sive 900-win club.

Austin American-Statesman - - COLLEGES - Byjohn Kekis Syra­cuse coach Jim Boe­heim can join ex­clu­sive fra­ter­nity with win against Detroit tonight. KEVIN rivoli / as­so­ci­ated PRESS

SYRA­CUSE, N.Y. — Jim Boe­heim has ex­pe­ri­enced a lot since the dawn of the new cen­tury - prostate surgery, a na­tional cham­pi­onship, in­duc­tion into the Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame, a pair of Olympic gold medals, the fir­ing of a life­long friend on his staff.

Yet even though it’s been 50 years since he en­rolled as a fresh­man at Syra­cuse, the 68-year-old Boe­heim just keeps rolling along, as in­tense and fo­cused as ever in his 37th year at his alma mater, wor­ried only about the next game when he’s not re­cruit­ing or rais­ing money for can­cer re­search.

‘’He hasn’t lost a beat,” said Boe­heim’s wife, Juli. “Jim’s got an in­tense edge at all times.”

One that has brought him to the doorstep of an­other mile­stone — 900 vic­to­ries. Some­time soon —the first chance comes against Detroit on Mon­day night in the Car­rier Dome on the court that bears his name — Boe­heim will join a most elite fra­ter­nity, one with only two other mem­bers — Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902), the only men’s coaches in Di­vi­sion I his­tory to win that many games.

“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.”

Even though his Or­ange have won more games the past three sea­sons than dur­ing any three­year stretch in his ca­reer and Boe­heim’s pro­gram is prob­a­bly bet­ter than it’s ever been, cross­ing an­other thresh­old on the vic­tory list isn’t fod­der for the din­ner ta­ble.

“We don’t even men­tion it at home,” Juli said.

One of a van­ish­ing breed, Boe­heim has been head coach at Syra­cuse since 1976 and has never had a de­sire to go any­where else. His first vic­tory as a col­lege coach was against Har­vard in Spring­field, Mass., a 75-48 tri­umph on Nov. 26, 1976.

“We were be­hind at half­time, not play­ing well at all,” Boe­heim re­called. “We just kind of went to some­thing real sim­ple of­fen­sively and outscored them about 20-some­thing to six in the sec­ond half.”

Af­ter tak­ing over for Roy Dan­forth, Boe­heim’s Or­ange went 26-4 in his rookie sea­son, los­ing in the sec­ond round of the NCAA tour­na­ment.

“We were a good east­ern pro­gram,” Boe­heim said. “At that time, St. Bon­aven­ture, Holy Cross, and all those pro­grams were just as good as we were. We were a lit­tle bit bet­ter at that point in time, but not much. There was really not much dif­fer­ence be­tween all the east­ern schools.”

Boe­heim has trans­formed what was a sound pro­gram — Syra­cuse was 128-71 in eight sea­sons un­der Dan­forth, go­ing 23-9 and reach­ing its first Fi­nal Four in the 1974-75 sea­son — and taken the Or­ange into the rar­efied air of three na­tional ti­tle games, win­ning in 2003 in New Or­leans.

Boe­heim holds the Di­vi­sion I record for most 20win sea­sons at 34, has 48 NCAA tour­na­ment vic­to­ries (fifth all-time and one be­hind Jim Cal­houn) in 29 trips, and tops the Big East with 402 wins.

And, clearly, he’s in a bet­ter place than he was a year ago when former as­sis­tant Bernie Fine was fired amid al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse against two former ball boys. No charges were filed, and last month fed­eral au­thor­i­ties dropped their in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Fine has stead­fastly main­tained his in­no­cence.

Boe­heim de­fended his life­long friend and en­dured crit­i­cism and scru­tiny, with some ac­tivists call­ing for him to be fired. He was ques­tioned re­peat­edly dur­ing news con­fer­ences about the case and was sued for defama­tion by the ball boys (the case was thrown out).

Boe­heim has been part of Krzyzewki’s staff for the past two Sum­mer Olympics, and the two have formed a solid friend­ship.

“Jim is one of the great coaches of all time, and he’s an even bet­ter man,” Krzyzewski said. “It will be an amaz­ing ac­com­plish­ment when he reaches 900 wins. What is even more amaz­ing is that he’s done that at one school. Jim Boe­heim and Syra­cuse Univer­sity are syn­ony­mous. He has built one of the great brands in col­lege bas­ket­ball, one that has with­stood the sport’s most un­re­lent­ing test - the test of time.”

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