Jim Boeheim, Associated Press Coach of the Year.
Boeheim received 38 votes from the 65-member national media panel, well ahead of Kansas State’s Frank Martin, who had eight.
The Orange, who lost their top three scorers from last season, finished 30-5 and were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They reached No. 1 in the AP media and ESPN/USA Today coaches’ polls. The No. 1 ranking in the AP poll was Syracuse’s first since 1990.
It’s hard to fathom that at no point in his 34-year career on The Hill, was he selected the season’s top coach. This is a man with the D-I record for 20-win seasons with THIRTY-TWO. His 829 victories are sixth-best all-time. It’s second among active coaches. He has a freaking Hall of Fame plaque.
This was long overdue and there was no serious competition for this award in ’09/’10. Self and Calipari were stacked. Painter, Huggins and Martin led good, not great regular seasons. This month has been filled with countless Izzo coaching gems.
But none of these coaches took a pre-season unranked squad with zero expectations and squeezed a regular season crown in the country’s best conference, a number-one ranking and a number-one seed out of it.
Which will forever make the Sweet 16 exit to Butler even more haunting.
It’s almost Heath Ledger winning his first Oscar, but only posthumously after “Dark Knight.”
The Per’fesser pushed all the right buttons for five months. He got an entire roster to commit to defense. He eliminated the selfishness that plagued recent SU squads. He goaded a nobody into a star (Wes) and youngsters into seasoned playmakers (Triche). He never let the hype overwhelm them (Nova’geddon), nor allow them to quit when trailing late.
And yet on the doorstep of legacy, in the season’s biggest game, just one step from an Elite 8 – this team ignored all of the traits that defined it all year.
Who knows why the Orange played lethargic for most of the game against the Bulldogs or why Rick Jackson picked that night to have his worst effort or why the entire squad forgot how important defense was.
Who knows why Wes didn’t try harder to get his own shot and take over the game, or why with a four-point lead late SU collapsed and heaved up awful shot after awful shot.
Unblinkingly, The Per’fesser deserves this award. He was impeccable throughout the season.
Rarely does such an honor feel so empty.