Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Change is a constant in college basketball. These
days we see elite players staying a year or two before seeking out the dollar-crazy
greener pasture of David Sternís league. Coaches change schools or leave the
profession at an alarmingly rapid rate. Change is the order of the college
game. Except at Syracuse.
Oh, players have come and gone but the major constant at the Big East
school is Jim Boeheim. In his twenty ninth year as head coach of the Orange,
Boeheim simply has stayed and won.
Syracuse defeated Memphis 77-62 to win the 2004 Coaches vs. Cancer
Classic at Madison Square Garden. A night earlier another nationally ranked
squad, Mississippi State was defeated by Syracuse.
Entering the season the record stood at 676-234. Boeheim has
been at the SU helm for each of the schoolís 25 Big east seasons with a
gaudy 263-139 mark. There have been 23 NCAA and four NIT appearances.
Three trips to the NCAA title game and the 2003 National Championship.
Syracuse was also runner-up in the 1981 NIT.
The detractors say his style is undisciplined. In truth, Boeheim has
procured the services of extremely talented players and was smart enough not
to treat them as programmed chessmen. There is structure in his system yet
the players enjoy creative freedom, a major reason talented kids take a long
look at Syracuse.
Boeheimís 2-3 zone, a staple of Syracuse since his early days as an
assistant to Roy Danforth, is one of the best and most thoroughly prepared as any
in the land.
Thanksgiving has yet to arrive and Syracuse is 4-0 with another
prestigious title under its belt. In these days of collegiate change, things stay
pretty much the same at Syracuse, where winning games and
championships has become a way of life.
* NBA scouts in attendance at this year's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic were getting a solid look at
Syracuse senior forward Hakim Warrick, who had an outstanding tournament.
Warrick went for 21 points against Mississippi State and 25 in the final
* Scouts did get a good look and liked what they saw in Memphis
swingman Rodney Carney. The 6-7 swingman is slim yet has the skills for an
NBA two-guard spot. He had 33 points in the semifinal win over St. Maryís
(California) and 25 in the final against Syracuse. The 2004 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic was a coming-out party for him.
* A key move by Boeheim and the Syracuse staff was moving Josh Pace to
the point and shifting Gerry McNamara to the two-guard spot midway through
the second half. Syracuse went on a decisive spurt to take a significant lead.
They then moved McNamara back to the point to finish the game with a win.