Dear Big East Media,
A horrible injustice has been done and it needs to be corrected now. How did you vote Stan Heath Coach of the Year over Jim Boeheim? USF had a nice season, gave plenty of good teams excellent efforts, and overall took a step forward as a program. But Boeheim not winning COY is a travesty. Please consider:
Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach, known more for his regular season success (886 career wins) than the post-season (3 Final Fours in 35 years). But even he’s never had a season like this one. His team won 30 games. In one of the toughest leagues in America, and in the face of one of the biggest scandals of the year. No one in Big East history has had this type of season. Those 30 wins are the most ever in a conference that was built on basketball superiority three decades ago.
The Orange was undefeated at home (only the second time that’s ever happened). SU’s only loss was on the road at Notre Dame without its starting center Fab Melo, on a night the Irish were unconsciously hot from deep. Notre Dame hit 8 three’s, the corpse of Baye Keita played 25 minutes, and it was still a single-digit game.
You want more numbers? Syracuse was 5-0 in games decided by 5 points or less. The Orange was 4-0 in one possession games, and those were literally decided as the buzzer sounded. Coaching wins close games at this level, and when Boeheim’s orders weren’t executed SU still won. The play he drew up at UConn to take advantage of C.J. Fair being guarded by Andre Drummond was brilliant. Initially it didn’t work because Melo screwed it up, as the big man crashed the boards. But Drummond was pulled away from the rim allowing Fab to get a game-winning putback.
Which leads us to Fab and Dion Waiters. Unlike Bobby Knigh and Coach K, Boeheim doesn’t consider it his job to make “better men.” He makes his players better basketball players and hopes that happens in the process. Waiters was an admittedly spoiled, selfish 18-year-old kid last season. Now, while still having an edge and confidence on the verge (if not blatantly splashing over) of cockiness, he is mature, under control and a total monster on the court. He admits Boeheim was the best thing for him, asked how to get better and then listened to the answer. Same with Melo. Both lost weight, improved what they needed to in their games and have become the two most important players SU has down the stretch.
All of that should be enough. However let’s now remind you of the elephant in the room. Boeheim did all of this without his right hand man of 35 years who was replaced with a graduate assistant because he was at the center of a sex abuse scandal. He guided his team through one of the highest profile controversies of the year, and just kept winning. He also had to deal with the Melo academic mess in a conference which may send double-digit teams to the NCAA’s. And he went 30-1.
That should be enough for national Coach of the Year, let alone the Big East’s. The conference should be embarrassed. Even Heath was shocked he won. I’ve never been an overzealous Boeheim supporter, but there is no way Boeheim isn’t at very least the Big East Coach of the Year.
Thank you for your consideration,
Posted: Craig Hoffman