Boeheim notches 31st season with 20 wins Print
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Thursday, 05 March 2009 10:52
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 SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -Jim Boeheim paces back and forth along the sidelines of the Carrier Dome basketball court that bears his name, watching Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins work the guards at one end and associate head coach Bernie Fine instruct the big men under the other basket.
Soon the Orange are scrimmaging and Boeheim interrupts when he sees something he doesn't like. Then he backs off, watches some more, and keeps on teaching.
In his 33rd year as head coach at his alma mater, his Orange (22-8) are a team to be reckoned with again.
Almost unnoticed is the coach's milestone: Boeheim has notched his 31st 20-win season, a Division I record.
``It's unbelievable,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ``It just tells you how consistent his program has been.''
The Orange's 64-year-old Hall of Fame coach seems more at ease than he was a year ago, when injuries forced Boeheim to start three freshmen for the first time in his coaching career and his team failed to make the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.
h in the AP Top 25,and an NCAA tournament berth seems a certainty for a team in the upper echelon of the rugged Big East.
Any real vocal sessions this season have happened at practice or behind closed doors, not so much on the bench during games.
``He'll have his moments where he has his tirades, but he's always been a great communicator,'' Hopkins said. ``He knows how to push the buttons. Sometimes it's yelling and sometimes it's not. He's a master at pushing the buttons and getting those guys to do what he wants them to do.
``This year we've been better, but he's been hard on them on the turnovers and the rebounding and some of our deficiencies,'' Hopkins said. ``But this year compared to last we have depth. When he takes a guy out now, there is no argument.''
Even a faulty microphone that filled the postgame press conference with a shrill, irritating echo after the Orange's first loss of the season - to Cleveland State in December on a 60-footer at the buzzer - drew only a comical slap or two from a frustrated Boeheim.
``He wasn't like that last year when we weren't winning,'' said sophomore point guard Jonny Flynn, the team's leading scorer. ``I guess everything is different when you're winning. He's laid-back, happy that we're winning, but he would never tell us that.''
and ranks fifth all-time in Division I wins with 1,747, behind only Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke.
Boeheim has 793 of those victories in 1,079 games, and the Orange's victory over St. John's on Feb. 24 was special. It moved Boeheim one rung above every other coach in the history of Division I for most seasons with at least 20 wins.
Boeheim entered the season tied with Dean Smith for the most 20-win seasons at 30. Bob Knight and Lute Olson each have 29, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is tied with Eddie Sutton and Jerry Tarkanian at 25, and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun has 23. Krzyzewski (828 wins in 34 seasons) and Calhoun (801 in 37 seasons) have more wins, but they've been on the job longer.
``I just think he's a coach's coach, and loves the game and shows commitment to high standards,'' said Krzyzewski, who selected Boeheim as an assistant on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal last year in Beijing. ``Whenever a guy does it well for a long period of time and stays at the (same) school, it also shows that he wants to be a part of that school, that university. Jim's a very special guy, and he's a really good coach, so his teams are going to win.''
rned the team's second NCAA tournament berth.
After graduating, Boeheim played pro ball in Scranton, Pa., then returned to Syracuse as a graduate assistant in 1969 on the staff of Roy Danforth. He's been here ever since.
In the annals of Division I, only Jim Phelan at Mount St. Mary's (1,354) and Smith at North Carolina (1,133) have more games while serving as head coach at one school. And only Smith (879), Adolph Rupp (876 at Kentucky) and Phelan (830) have more wins at one school.
``People always say you come here and it's so cold, but the people are so warm, and that's why he's stayed in Syracuse 33 years - because of the people,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino, an assistant on Boeheim's first team in 1976, said after his Cardinals defeated the Orange here in January. ``The program is great. He doesn't want for anything more than this place. I'm real happy for him. I'm real happy that he's not retiring anytime soon. I'm sure I will leave way before he leaves.''
Boeheim has led the Orange to 40 NCAA tournament wins in 25 appearances, and in the past 22 years has guided the team to three national championship games, losing to Knight's Indiana Hoosiers in 1987 - by one point - and to Pitino's Kentucky Wildcats in 1996 before beating Kansas for the 2003 title with stars Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara.
obligations - he's a tireless fundraiser for cancer research - the Orange are in good hands. Fine was on Boeheim's original staff and Hopkins, the designated successor to Boeheim, was a Syracuse team captain in the 1990s.
``I think assistant coaches are the lifeblood of a program, and to have Bernie and Mike, who know the program inside and out, those are invaluable tools,'' said Boeheim, who has a record 352 Big East wins. ``It's crucial to any program that you have topflight assistant coaches who understand all the different aspects of a program and what has to be done, and we have that here.''
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AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report.
 

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