5 things Jim Boeheim said ahead of No. 11 seed Syracuse’s matchup with No. 3 seed Michigan State

first_img Published on March 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 DETROIT — No. 11 seed Syracuse (22-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) will face off against No. 3 seed Michigan State (30-4, 16-2 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon. The Orange beat sixth-seeded TCU on Friday night, while the Spartans dispatched 14th-seeded Bucknell. Both head coaches held press conferences ahead of the game. Here are five things SU head coach Jim Boeheim said in a colorful press conference on Saturday afternoon.Tom Izzo and the FBI probeMichigan State head coach Tom Izzo has led a powerhouse MSU squad for years. The Spartans entered the season ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25, have never been ranked lower than No. 9 and have been ranked outside the top-five for just two weeks all season. Izzo has been at the school since 1995, and his teams have never gone three-straight years without making the Sweet Sixteen. Boeheim heaped praise on Izzo, then alluded to his the FBI probe involving MSU and Izzo, as well as alleged sexual assault allegations.“There was never any doubt that he’d be a great coach,” Boeheim said. “He’s absolutely one of the great coaches we’ve ever had. And I think he’s even better off the court. He’s one of the nicest people I know. And there’s no guy that has better character that you would want to be your head coach more than Tom Izzo. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I’ve seen countless situations where I’ve been around him where he always does the right thing, 100 percent of the time. Tom Izzo would never do the wrong thing. And anybody that thinks other than that, they don’t know Tom Izzo. I know him. I’ve been involved in stuff — you’re not supposed to say things — but Tom Izzo is not going to do things that aren’t right, 100 percent of the time. On the basketball court, off the basketball court.”Marek Dolezaj’s growthSyracuse’s freshman forward scored a game-high 17 points in SU’s win over TCU on Friday and he scored a career-high less than two weeks ago in the ACC Tournament. His emergence has coincided with SU’s late-year push, and Boeheim chuckled on Friday when asked about his starting forward and the adjustments he’s had to make in a new country. “He seems to be doing pretty good,” Boeheim said. “He’s doing well in school. He’s got a blond cheerleader for a girlfriend. He’s starting on a team in the 32 in the country. I guess he’s doing OK. She drives him all over, too. It almost should be illegal. Probably is.”On a more serious note, Boeheim reflected on Dolezaj’s growth over the course of the season. Boeheim said he has offered a scholarship only twice to players he had not seen in person. One was “the worst player I had,” whom he did not name. The other is Dolezaj. “But we were in the summer,” Boeheim said. “We had lost a player late or knew we were going to lose a player pretty late. So our numbers were really sketchy at the time. We had got some tape and we liked what we saw. We knew that he was a productive player on his junior team. And you watch him on tape, he is what he is.“He’s quick, he runs. He’s got a good feel for the game. He’s one of the only European players that can’t shoot that I’ve seen in the last few years. But he’s more athletic than a lot of European guys. He came in, Adrian (Autry) has worked with him really hard. I’ve tried to help him a little bit. We changed his shot a little bit. And he’s pretty good from about 15 feet in. He makes his free throws and he’s got a good touch from 15. When he moves out, he goes back a little bit to his old form. But last night, maybe because he had to hurry it, the 3 he made the shot perfectly.“But he’s a really smart player. If he weighed 200 pounds, 210, he’d probably be one of the better players in the country.”Despite No. 1 overall seed Virginia’s loss, head coach Tony Bennett is one of the best coaches aroundNo. 1 overall seed Virginia became the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed in its 74-54 loss to University of Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday night. The Cavaliers may be the best team over the past five years in the country, as they won 126 games before postseason play. That’s the highest total in the ACC, and they have won three of the last five regular-season conference titles. “Tony Bennett is in my top two or three coaches in the country by far,” Boeheim said. “Unfortunately, in our business, it’s all about the Tournament when you’re a good team. When you just get in, like now I’m a great coach. I’m, sh*t, I’m no better than I was two weeks ago. “But he’s won the ACC against Duke and North Carolina what four or five years? I don’t know what it is. It’s beyond even trying to understand it. With maybe two recruits in the top 40. And he’s playing against 15 guys on each team over those period of time that were in the top 20 or top 10 or top five in wins?“Come on. It’s one game. It’s one game. I can, no, I can’t — but a reasonably good player on the pro tour can beat Tiger Woods in one round. When he was in his peak he got beat a lot. This is college basketball. I saw the Spurs get beat in their first game of the playoffs one year. They won the championship. “I think you could easily make the case that Tony Bennett’s way overachieved in the regular season and they played like they probably are in the Tournament. You could possibly make that case. This year’s a little aberration, obviously. That was a bad — but the other losses, you know, it’s a tough tournament.”“If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place. Nobody. He’s kicked our ass every time we’ve played him except we got lucky once.”That one time was Syracuse’s magical Elite Eight victory two years ago.Jim Boeheim’s early days and Dave BingBoeheim looked back to his time at SU, when he arrived on campus and turned from walk-on to team captain as a senior. The Lyons, New York, native enrolled at SU in 1962 and was roommates with All-American Dave Bing, who sat near the court on Friday night cheering on his alma mater. “He taught me how to do a lot of things that have helped me in life, really the most mature, most well-rounded individual that I’ve ever been around in my life,” Boeheim said of Bing. “And made a huge impact on me. I was from Lyons, New York, 5,000 people. I didn’t know who the Supremes were when I came into my room. “And he taught me an awful lot. Although the first day of practice, I thought I was pretty good, I guarded him, he had 15-straight baskets against me. And I called my mom. I said, mom, I don’t know about this situation. My mom was pretty smart. She said, well, how about the other players? I said they’re not that good. Then you’ll be OK.“I’m proud to be from Lyons, New York, town of 5,000 people. Small little town. And got to Syracuse when I was 17. And didn’t know much about anything. And I remember I was a freshman playing on the freshman team, one of my best friends said, you’re doing OK, but why did you come to Syracuse? You’re never going to play here.”Lack of depth, MSU matchupBoeheim repeatedly has denied that Syracuse’s players aren’t tired, even at the end of games. Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, Oshae Brissett and now Dolezaj play just about the entirety of games, but Boeheim sees that as more of a plus. He said he once had a player, whom he did not name, average 36 minutes per game. The player’s father told Boeheim his son wasn’t happy. Not because of a lack of playing time, but because he wanted to play 40 minutes per game — not 36. “They all want to play,” Boeheim said. “They’re going to get worn down. They’re going to feel it sometimes. You’ve just got to play through it and go from there. That’s all you can do. You can’t think about that. You can’t think about the negatives in this game. You’ve got to think about the positives. And this team’s been great at that.“We shot the ball horrifically last night. Against Arizona State, we did not shoot it well. And we were able to get, at the end of the day, get the win. And they’ve been good at that all year. We’ve had a few good shooting games and we’re probably going to need one pretty soon here (tomorrow).” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img