Win or loss, it‚Äôs not often that you get a smile out of Jim Boeheim. And, with that, it‚Äôs even less often that you get a compliment.
Rarer still is when the visually tough, angry, yelling coach on the court specifically takes an extra few seconds to make the compliment even while a reporter has started asking him the next question.
Well, after Syracuse defeated Boston College at home on February 9, this is exactly what happened.
After talking about the seemingly funny moment where his son, Buddy Boeheim, had an open three-point shot opportunity right in front of the SU bench at the end of the game and the fans yelled ‚Äúshoot‚Äù while Jim told him not to, the coach made it a point to salute those in attendance.
‚ÄúFans were great today. The crowds have been great all year. They really have,‚Äù Coach Boeheim said after a brief pause. A reporter at the press conference had already begun asking the next question, and Jim spoke over it, making his point to compliment the Orange supporters.
A few days later, on February 20 after the SU win over Louisville, a reporter asked Boeheim what he expected the atmosphere to be like at the Duke game in the Carrier Dome that Saturday.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôll be noisy,‚Äù Boeheim said as he walked away. Many of the people in the room laughed.
And, indeed, it was loud. The largest on-campus crowd at a basketball game in history‚Äî35,642 people‚Äîcame to the Dome. Seating flowed past the basketball court seating into the areas in the back usually only used for SU football games or other whole-venue events.
As Boeheim walked into public view on February 23, the fans cheered loudly. When asked about the moment, Boeheim again had positive things to say about the crowds.
‚ÄúOur fans are great,‚Äù Boeheim started.
Then what began as a similar answer as before took an emotional turn.
‚ÄúYou know, I‚Äôve been here all my life. They‚Äôve always been supportive. I think they know how bad I feel, what I feel. And I just thought they were there to support our team and me,‚Äù Boeheim said.
The Orange have one more home game this season. On Monday, Syracuse plays Virginia at home. Aside from traveling on the road to follow the team, this is the last time Orange fans will congregate around SU to show their support this year.
So, tough? Angry? Yelling on the court? Maybe so.
But it goes to show you that Boeheim notices the crowds around him.
And emotionally as well as literally in regard to the new attendance record, there truly is no place like home.
Published: David Edelstein