Jim Boeheim vs. the world: A feud grows in Brooklyn

Syracuses grumpy coach lashes out after another ACC Tourney loss

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim reacts to a call in the first half of the college basketball game between North Carolina and Syracuse at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill

BROOKLYN — After Jim Boeheim won a hard-fought game, he stopped for a post-game interview. The first line, from the CBS announcer was, “Whine to me.”That was the late Al McGuire … in 1996.More than two decades later, nothing has changed for Jim Boeheim. Everything in the world is still conspiring against him, and it’s just not fair.”Even when he isn’t whining,” John Feinstein wrote, “Boeheim sounds like he’s whining.” Feinstein then quoted an unnamed colleague who said, “If a hemorrhoid could talk, it would sound just like Jim Boeheim.”Raindrops on roses? Whiskers on kittens? They’ve all gotten on Jim Boeheim’s nerves over the last four decades, but nothing has irritated him as much as Syracuse’s decision to join the ACC three years ago.Jim didn’t want to travel to North Carolina, a rural backwater compared to the thriving metropolis that is Syracuse, N.Y. (For the record, if Syracuse was located in North Carolina, it would immediately become the state’s eighth-biggest city, just behind … Cary.)His first shot against the state was his complaint that there was no place to eat down there. “I’m sure there’s a couple Denny’s down there,” he griped. (For the record, there are two Denny’s within a five-mile radius of the site of this year’s tournament and three within a five-mile radius of Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.)On Boeheim’s first visit to North Carolina as a member of the ACC, he pitched a coat-throwing, foot-stomping tantrum at center court of Cameron Indoor Stadium to get himself ejected (and end any chance of a win over Duke.)Traveling to the Old North State is not a vacation for him, and if anyone knows about vacating, it’s Boeheim.Boeheim never had these problems in the Big East, the conference Syracuse helped build, then bailed on as it melted down. Of course, that doesn’t mean he was happy. He’s a firm believer in classic rocker Joe Walsh, who sang, “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”There was the year he complained to the New York Daily News about Syracuse getting a double bye. “I think the double-bye is awful,” he said. “It’s a huge advantage to be playing instead of waiting. “You play a game, you get used to the tournament. The top seeds are sitting around until Thursday.”This year, the ACC bowed down to the whining and held the tournament in his backyard, assuming, of course, that his backyard is 250 miles long. Among the schools closer to Brooklyn than the Cuse are Boston College, Villanova, Penn State, Maryland and Boeheim’s longtime rival, Georgetown.Regardless, the tournament went to a borough, instead of the ‘Boro, and Jim Boeheim still found cause to whine after Syracuse responded to the advantage of a big-city game with a first-round loss to Miami. Cue more Boeheim drama.”There’s no reason to play in Greensboro,” Boeheim whined after the loss.He would rather play in “major media centers” like New York, D.C. and Atlanta, because that’s where the recruits are. And there’s nothing that appeals more to New York City players than the zone defense. All the kids say it’s the bomb at Rucker Park.Still, Boeheim knows how to mine the cities to stock his Syracuse roster. Among the hometowns on this year’s Orange team are Huntington Woods, Mich.; Westport, Conn.; Houston; Richmond, Va.; Suitland, Md., and Gahanna, Ohio.Meanwhile, North Carolina, with Greensboro-born starter Theo Pinson, arrives in Brooklyn as the top seed, while Syracuse is back home, still waiting for its first-ever ACC Tournament win.