One national title, 47 seasons and Jim Boeheim’s 10 greatest moments at Syracuse
The nation’s longest-serving men’s college basketball coach ended Wednesday when Syracuse announced the retirement of Jim Boheim from the Hall of Fame in Central New York after 47 seasons as the program’s head coach.
Boheim, 78, has been with the Oranges in three different roles for 57 of the past 60 years. He entered Syracuse in 1962 and was part of the basketball team for all four years, starting as a freshman and then starting all 28 games as a senior, helping the Oranges to the NCAA Tournament. He had a short professional career before returning to Syracuse as an assistant in 1969. Boheim has not left once in the last 54 years.
As head coach of the program, Boheim led the Oranges to five Final Four matches and the 2003 national championship. Notably, he never had a season below .500 until 2021–22 when Syracuse went 16–17.
It was synonymous with the rise—and fall—of the old Big East: Syracuse won 10 Big East regular season titles and five Big East tournament championships. At the time, Orange were one of three programs that left the league and moved to the ACC in 2013, along with Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.
The Oranges never reached their previous post-conference peak, but Boheim built a reputation late in his career for a surprising March run after a volatile regular season performance. In the 2015-16 season The Oranges tied for ninth in the ACC before making it to the Final Four. In 2017-18, they were below .500 in the ACC game before moving into the Sweet 16. Similarly, they hit the Sweet 16 in 2021 after finishing eighth in the ACC.
Perhaps Boheim’s most recognizable coaching trait was the 2-3 zone. Syracuse played the zone for most of Beheim’s career, starting with its use on certain properties and in certain games in the first half of his career and gradually increasing its use as his career progressed.
Outside of his time at Syracuse, Boheim also served as a head coach on the USA Basketball team as an assistant coach to Mike Krzyszewski. He won six gold medals and two bronze medals.
During Boheim’s more than 50-year career with Syracuse, things didn’t go so well. He was suspended for nine games of the 2015-16 campaign following an NCAA investigation into the university’s men’s basketball and football programs, an investigation that also resulted in the school giving up 101 wins. Even without these wins, Boheim is sixth on the all-time win list – with those wins, he would be fourth.
Boheim was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
In other words, Boheim is Syracuse men’s basketball. He took a program in a region not known for producing high-level basketball players and turned it into a national powerhouse.
Before we jump into the Adrian “Red” Autry era, let’s recap the 10 highlights of Boheim’s career.
10. Latest NCAA Tournament Win March 21, 2021: Boheim’s last win of 68 came in the Round of 16 against West Virginia in Indianapolis. Buddy Boeheim was ahead of the “orange” with 25 points. Syracuse lost to Houston in the Sweet 16.
9. “The referees just took the game away from us,” March 11, 1984: In the 1984 Big East title match, referee Dick Paparo apparently signaled first that Georgetown’s Michael Graham was sent off. However, Graham remained in the game, the Hoyas won in overtime, and Boeheim was unhappy. “Michael Graham hit my player in front of 19,000 people,” he told reporters after the game. “Georgetown has a great basketball team, but the best team didn’t win today. Thank you”.
8. Achieving the title of national champion, March 30, 1987: With a rotation featuring Sherman Douglas, Rony Seikaly, Greg Monroe, Derrick Coleman, Howard Triche and Stephen Thompson, Syracuse didn’t lose any talent in Boheim’s 11th season. That season came to an end in the national championship game when Indiana’s Keith Smart hit the game-winning shot for the Hoosiers.
7. First career win, November 26, 1976: Boeheim, 32, recorded his first win as a head coach at the Civic Center in Springfield, Massachusetts when Syracuse defeated Harvard 75–48. “In the second half, we played more zone defense to get them to shoot from outside,” Beheim told reporters after the game. “It worked.”
6. Six in the City, March 12, 2009: After six overtimes, Boeheim scored a 127–117 win over his rival Jim Calhoun and UConn in the 2009 Big East quarter-finals. The game started on Thursday evening and ended at 1:22 am on Friday. The following night, the Oranges won another overtime game before losing to Louisville in the finals.
5. Victory in the first ever tournament of the Big East, March 1, 1980: With a rotation featuring Roosevelt Bui and Louis Orr, Syracuse defeated Georgetown 87–81 in the inaugural Big East tournament. The event was held at the Providence Civic Center. In the NCAA tournament, the Orange beat Villanova (not yet a member of the Big East) and lost to Iowa.
4. Zone defense in full swing, March 21-30, 2013: When Syracuse finished 4th in the 2013 tournament, it was the lowest seed the Oranges had received in five years. However, Beheim’s team had their deepest tournament in 10 years. Syracuse held onto their first four opponents in the tournament with 15% accuracy on three-pointers and advanced to the Final Four before losing to Michigan.
3. Entering the Final Four with a two-digit seed, April 2, 2016: Syracuse ended the regular season losing four of their last five games before being eliminated from the ACC by Wednesday afternoon. No one expected anything from this No. 10 seed. Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbini then had big wins over Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Gonzaga and Virginia before the Orange lost to North Carolina in the Final Four.
2. Overtime at Sweet 16, March 22, 1996: In one of the most exciting finals in the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse defeated Georgia 83–81 in overtime at the 1996 Sweet 16. Orange in additional session. Syracuse advanced to the national title game before losing to Kentucky 76-67.
1. Winning it all, April 7, 2003: Before age requirements were introduced as an NBA rule, Carmelo Anthony averaged 22-10 double-doubles as a freshman at Syracuse. In the NCAA Tournament, Anthony and the No. 3 seed Orange defeated two No. 1 seeds from the Big 12 (Oklahoma and Texas) before facing Kansas in the national title game. Hakeem Warrick blocked a potentially tied third corner from KU’s Michael Lee to seal the 81-78 victory.