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October 16, 2013

Jim Boeheim


THE MODERATOR:  We have Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.
You said this is going to be a lot like going to the dentist.
COACH BOEHEIM:  Without novocaine (laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions right away.

Q.  Are you the most popular guy here or least popular?  Are guys happy to see you in their league this year?
COACH BOEHEIM:  I don't know.  I'm not evaluating that.  I'm not sure where I am here in this world.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH BOEHEIM:  We're excited.  Obviously this has been a long time coming, thinking about it.  To me, everything is done.  We're in the ACC.  We're excited about it.  Our fans are obviously excited about it.  We're selling more season tickets than we've sold in a long time.
There's more excitement about Duke, Carolina, these schools coming in.  The players are excited to be in this league.  I think the coaches are.  It's just a tremendous challenge.  It's a great league.  You want to be in the best league you can be in.  This is, I believe, the best league.

Q.  You played a lot of the teams in the ACC.  Talk about what it's like now competing for a championship with them now.
COACH BOEHEIM:  Every year when you start out in your league, you're trying to win the league.  That's what you're trying to do.
We played a lot of these teams, six or seven of these teams were in the Big East.  We got familiarity with them, them with us.  We played Duke, Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia over the last few years home and home.
It's not completely unfamiliar.  Coaches and players adjust quickly.  They'll get to know us, we'll get to know them.  By the time the ACC league starts, we'll be ready to go.

Q.  If I'm not mistaken, your last game as a player was against Duke.  Can you draw a line from that in '66?
COACH BOEHEIM:  I didn't want to remember that game.  Didn't turn out the right way.
But, you know, having the kind of interest that our fans have in Duke, I mean Georgetown they were sold out the week before the game, and that's a first by the long ways.  I think Carolina will do the same things, some of the other games.  I don't think I've seen our fans this excited about basketball in years.
It's not like we got bad fans that are just getting excited.  They've been great.  We've been second in attendance in the country for the last 15 years, whatever it is.  It's nice to see they've embraced this league.
I think, to steal a quote from my good friend at Duke, these games are going to be instant rivalries.  You're going to have right away games that are big games, meaningful games.  You'll create rivalries immediately.

Q.  Looking at Mike Krzyzewski, what is it going to be like for you to have the opportunity to go up against him, have him in the dome, what it really means to know how successful you've both been?
COACH BOEHEIM:  I've coached against really good friends a lot.  You just don't really look down.  When we play Duke, I'm concerned about his players and he's concerned about my players, what they're doing.  We're not doing much.  We're not able to do a whole lot anymore.
Duke is a great, great program.  It's a great challenge for us to play them.  We're excited about it.  We want to be the best team.  We want to play the best teams.  That's how you get there.

Q.  How exciting is it to have C.J. back with a new journey into a new conference, and Baye as well?
COACH BOEHEIM:  I think it's important.  We try to develop players.  You're going to lose some guys, that's just college basketball.  But a key for us over the years is to have some senior leadership.
We've got two great seniors, C.J. Fair, Baye, they've been in the tournament games, NCAA finals, they've been there.  It's important to have that kind of leadership, particularly with the challenges of how good this league is going to be this year.

Q.  Expectations this year after the Final Four run last year, the fact you're entering a conference with even more competition, the challenge of that, trying to do it again.  C.J. Fair said the goal is trying to finish the job.
COACH BOEHEIM:  You start every year, you want to be the best you can be.  If you're anywhere in the top 30 teams in the country, you think you can get to the Final Four.  Reality is, you can.  That's the way college basketball is now.
Things change.  I mean, we lost four out of five games during the year.  I think people were hoping we were going to win a game in the tournament.  A notable expert picked us to lose to Montana.  That's just the way basketball is.  If you're a good team, you're going to go through some ups and downs.
Everybody wants to be in a tough league, play great games.  They want you to win every game.  That's not the way it works.
If you're in a great league, you play a tough schedule, you're going to lose.  You don't plan it, but it's how you come out, how you turn out as a team at the end of the year.
Last year, even though we lost late, we got it together and went to New York, had a good tournament, then we played great in the NCAA tournament.  Played our best basketball.
I think that's really what you're trying to do.  Everybody's trying to do that.  There's just more of an opportunity now if you do play well at the end of the year to have success at the end of the year.

Q.  Going from the Big East to the ACC, are you anticipating a big change in the style of play?
COACH BOEHEIM:  Not really.  I think style of play is so similar.  There's always going to be some differences in how people play.  Some will press, some will play a little more aggressive man‑to‑man.  There will be fast‑break teams.  There will be teams that will be patient, halfcourt teams.  That's what you see every year.
You play 13 non‑conference games, you see 13 different teams.  You're going to see different types of styles all the time in those games.
Then in the conference, within the conference, you're going to have different styles.
At the end of the day, that's what college basketball is.  Coaches and players adjust pretty quickly to what they have to face.  I mean, you get in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year, hopefully you're going to play four, five, six games.  There are going to be all different kinds of teams.
By playing different kinds of teams during the year, that's what gets you ready to be a good tournament team, that you've seen different styles, so when you get in that situation you're ready for it, you're more prepared for it.

Q.  How do you evaluate the backcourt?  You have a freshman point guard, then some questions at the two guard spot.
COACH BOEHEIM:  I think that's the first basketball question I've actually had.  Took seven, eight hours (laughter).
We have a very experienced frontline.  I think it's a better frontline than we had last year.  I think we're better, more physical, a year older, got mostly the same guys.  We have a couple freshmen that can contribute on our frontline.  It's the deepest, best frontline I think I've coached in a long time, let's put it that way.
Our back court I think is talented, but it is very young, very inexperienced.  I've started four freshmen point guards since I've been the head coach the Syracuse.  I'm as comfortable with this point guard as any of the point guards I've started.  I've had some pretty good ones.
I've had a couple sophomores that made All‑American after not playing as freshmen, so they really were kind of freshmen.  Sherman Douglas, Michael Carter‑Williams.
I think at the two, we've got a lot of competition at that spot.  You're looking at two guys, Trevor Cooney had his second year, (indiscernible) is in his third year.  I think they may not have been ready as sophomores, but this year they are ready to play.  That's the area that we have the most questions about in terms of our team.
With our frontline of C.J. Fair, Baye, those guys, they've all gotten better.  I think they'll all be ready to go.

Q.  Steve Donahue was in here before you.  He said this has the potential to be the best conference ever created.  Would you agree with that?
COACH BOEHEIM:  You know, I don't usually like to make those statements.  I mean, in the past I've always said that the league that I was in was one of the best leagues.  I've always said that.  I don't know if I've ever said it's the best league.  I may have used that word.  One year, when we had 11 teams in the tournament, I think you could probably say that was the best league in the country.
Certainly potentially this league has every chance to be the best basketball league ever.  I think that's true.  But I still kind of think let's go out and prove it rather than talk about it.  But certainly this league has that kind of potential.
THE MODERATOR:  Appreciate you coming through.  Good luck this season.
COACH BOEHEIM:  Thank you.

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