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April 4, 2013

Jim Boeheim


THE MODERATOR:  Head coach of the Syracuse Orange, Jim Boeheim.  Coach Boeheim is prepared to make an opening statement, then take questions.
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† It's great to be in Syracuse, weather‑wise anyway (smiling).
But, you know, obviously feel very proud of our team for how they turned around the end of the season, going into the tournament season, what they've done.  Really proud of what they've been able to accomplish at this point.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Boeheim.

Q.  Jim, you talked the other day a little bit about your offense, that you want it to be playing better in the tournament, going forward.  You've played pretty well as the tournament has gone on.  How much do you think the defense has played a part in getting your offense going?
COACH BOEHEIM:  We haven't got transition baskets really too much in this tournament off our defense.  I think our offense has been pretty good.  I think it probably needs to be better, but because I think Michigan is the best offensive team we played.
You know, that's just my thought process.  Doesn't necessarily have to work that way, but it could be.  It could work that way.

Q.  Jim, it's been 10 years since the last Final Four appearance.  When you look at the college landscape, what has been the most surprising to you, the biggest changes?  For you personally, what have been the biggest changes in the last 10 years?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, you know, I think the balance in college basketball has gradually changed over the years from what it was a long time ago, but even in the last 10 years there's more balance than ever before.
I think there's always been good coaches, but I think it seems to me there's just more good coaches.  And I think the real striking difference is there's more good players.
You can recruit at the very bottom of the level of schools and get good players.¬† You know, there's really not that much difference between the so‑called top 40 and the next 40 and the next 40.¬† And there's guys below 100 in the ratings system, which is really not worth looking at, that can be All‑Americans.
So I think every school is capable of getting good players.
Now, when you're that far down, some of those guys you get will turn out and you can have a great year, great team; some of them won't.¬† When you get the higher‑level player, obviously you have a better chance to be good, to have good players.
But I think that's the biggest difference to me, the number of good players out there that, you know, will come out.  You'll see them play here or last weekend.  Nobody ever heard of 'em in high school, and they're good players.

Q.¬† These days point guards are incredibly important.¬† Michael Carter‑Williams all season long has been solid for you, especially from the assist side of the game.¬† What about his game has improved throughout this run for you?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† That's a hard question because he really started out the year great.¬† I mean, he played great.¬† Obviously when you get into your conference and people know you better, it's more difficult.¬† You're not going to average 10 assists a game like he did in the non‑conference part.¬† But he was still among the leaders in the country all year in assists.
I think the part of his game that sometimes gets overlooked, he's third in the country or so in steals.  That's difficult out of a zone.  There's not as many steal opportunities as if you're a pressing team.  And so his rebounding has been very important for us.
I think his knowledge of where to get the ball has improved.  I think his game has improved.  This is his first year playing.  I mean, he's a sophomore, but it's his first year playing.  I think he's still got a tremendous upside as to what he can be.
He gained about 10 pounds from last year and he needs another at least another 10, 12 pounds for next year.¬† You know, he's a tremendous all‑around point guard.
I know when we recruited him, people questioned whether he was a point guard.  I think he's proven to everybody that he's certainly a point guard.  He was one of our earliest commitments I think ever.  He committed to us during his sophomore year.

Q.  Jim, this seems like it would have been a year of a lot of mixed emotions for you with all the changes that are occurring, realignment, all that.  What is it like then to get to this point, especially at this stage of your career and to be here on this stage right now at this particular time?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, it's a little bit of a surprise.  I think coaches, we always feel we can get there, whether it's realistic or not.  I felt after New York we were playing pretty well, and I would have been disappointed if we didn't win our first two games.  Even though California was out there, it was a difficult game.
I wouldn't have expected going into the tournament that we were going to be here.  But, you know, the thing you say all year long, which sometimes people think it's just coach talking, coach speak, whatever it is, that you have a chance.  You do.  You really do.  If you're one of the top 20 teams or 30.
I remember seeing Wichita State play a couple times during the year and be impressed, but they lost.  They lost.  It was a couple games.  I can't remember exactly the game.  But they played good teams in their conference and they lost the games.  But you could see they were a pretty good team.
You know, I always thought Gonzaga was good all year.  Wichita State made seven or eight threes in a row and 14 threes to beat 'em, and they needed all of them to beat them.  In retrospect, Gonzaga looks pretty darn good now.
No, we didn't expect to get here, but you always do have that hope.  So it's a great feeling.  This team has come together.  Sometimes that happens at tournament time.  It happened to us in '96 when we kind of came together and got here.  And other years, you know, we've come close.
But, you know, you lose a heart‑breaking game to somebody that you think you could have won, that happens in this tournament.¬† You're going to get upset in this tournament.¬† You're going to upset people in this tournament.
I think as a coach you hate it when every time they mention your name, they say, They lost to Richmond.  Well, yeah, okay, that was 30 years ago or whatever.  I mean, you can pick out different things in everybody's life when you put four or five, six of them down, it looks like a lot.  But over 37 years, it's really not a lot.  I still get mad.  That's why I'm still coaching.  When I stop getting mad about this stuff, then I won't matter and I won't be coaching (smiling).

Q.  What particular level of satisfaction do you have this year and with this team relative to maybe some other teams you have had going to the Final Four?  And how long do you plan on coaching?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Yeah, I hear that a lot, that question.  I answer it the same way.  About 10 years ago, I thought it was my last year.  I really did.  I'm still here.
I learned then not to make that decision, you know.  I have no plans on retiring.  That's one thing I can say.  I have said that.  But then every once in a while I say, It's not that far away, and people get excited again.  People really used to get excited when I said that because we didn't go to the Final Four that year and they didn't want me back.
But now the majority still probably wants me back next year ‑ right now.¬† After Saturday, who knows.
But the satisfaction level, whenever you get here, it's great.  I mean, I was disappointed last year.  I thought we had a team to do it.  Then when Arinze got hurt three years ago, I thought we had our best team, our best chance to do it really.  That just took our team apart.
We didn't have enough depth to overcome that because we had to move our forward to center.  We still lost to a really good team that went to the Final Four.
So, you know, I would have expected it more if one of those teams had gone.  But this team's a good team.  They're a good basketball team.  They're playing good basketball.  It's hard to beat a team like Indiana convincingly.  I don't recall exactly their season, but I don't remember if anybody beat them convincingly.
Marquette is a team that got beat a couple times like that, but they're still a pretty tough‑minded team.
So this team's played well.  I'm happy at this stage.  We have a really good group, really easy group to coach.  I don't think I've raised my voice more than a couple, three or four times the whole year, and I usually do.  So I'm happy that they were able to get here because it's a really good group.

Q.  Jim, you mentioned raising your voice to the players.  I think almost everybody has seen the shocking video of Mike Rice.

Q.  I wanted to know first what that stirred in you when you saw it?  Secondly, do you believe that there is more of that coaching style out there in Division I going on right now?
COACH BOEHEIM:  I absolutely do not believe there's that coaching style going on.  I do not.  I'll go out where you probably shouldn't go.  I don't think there's a coach in the country that does that.
I know Mike Rice.  I've known him a long time.  I like him.  I think he's a very good basketball coach.  I think the tragedy is his team would have played exactly the same or better if he hadn't done any of that.  If he never threw a ball, if he never touched anybody, his team would have played I think better, in my experience.
You know, I get verbal.  I'm on players.  I don't like to curse.  I do curse sometimes.  You get out of control, just things come out when you're in the heat of the moment.  But you can't touch a player other than just on the shoulder or something, and you certainly can't push 'em and grab 'em or throw something at 'em.
I have thrown a ball, and it's usually up in the stands, and last time I hurt my arm, so I don't throw them anymore.
I watched 10 seconds of the video.  I couldn't watch it, honestly.  I couldn't watch it anymore.
I think sometimes you coach a certain style.  There's coaches that really get after it, are on it.  I used to be more like that.  Now if I get upset once every week or two, it's a lot.  I found that it really doesn't make any difference.
It's like yelling at referees.  You can yell at them all you want, it's not going to make any difference, so why do it, why waste the energy, why distract yourself from coaching?  I think those are things that as you get a little older, you find...
You still yell at them a little bit because they know you're over there.  I think some of them, if you don't yell at them, they think they're doing a great job.  You don't want to give them that impression.
I couldn't watch it.  I couldn't watch it.  And I do not believe that happens.

Q.  Related to the Rutgers practices, what do you think that video will have on the coaching profession going forward?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Well, I think if anybody tends to get a little bit upset, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody throws basketballs, I don't think they throw them at people.  But I think that would give you pause to think about what you're doing.
Like I said, I literally could not watch that video.

Q.  Jim, you've made it clear you have no idea when you're going to retire.  At 38, could you have ever imagined you'd be operating at this high of a level at 68?
COACH BOEHEIM:¬† I think I started ‑ I never can remember, I can't keep track ‑ at 31 or 32.¬† I was hoping to make it 38.¬† That really the thought I had:¬† Can I make it to 38.
They wanted to give me a three‑year contract, I held out for four.¬† I told them I was going to the University of Rochester.¬† It would have helped my golf game, but not my coaching career.¬† The guy that went there won two national championships, so it might have been a better job.
It's like U of R is two blocks from Oak Hill, so it would have been helpful for my golf game.
No, I was hoping to make it to the first five.  Then after that, I was hoping to make it to 10.  I think in this business, you know, somebody asked me last year, You're not worried if you have a bad year, are you?
I said, Yeah, you don't get bad years at Syracuse, a lot of other schools.  They expect you to win.
I mean, if you don't win, you're too old or something, whatever.  There will be something that they come up with.  In the end, you know that going into coaching.  That's just the way it is.
I saw the USA Today, I think I'm getting underpaid, too, so I don't know what's going on here (smiling).
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, coach.
COACH BOEHEIM:  Thank you.

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