Watch Jim Boeheim react to the Tyler Ennis 3 to beat Pitt … is he happy? Sure. Is he stunned? Hell no, he is Jim Boeheim.
People think I don't like Boeheim, which isn't true. I've just got Jimmy B figured out and I get it, and generally I really like it. Jimmy B's legacy is going to be that he is the most confident coach, with a confident team, and he is going to let his players make plays to decide if they are going to win or lose. Call it cocky, call it confident, call it arrogant, call it 'Boeheim Ball.'
He's the same way on the golf course. He has the unique ability to whine about his game, make fun of yours and properly place an 'F' bomb in nearly every sentence, but with a charm to it.
Is it cliche to say that teams reflect their coach's personality? Sure. You know what else it is? It is generally true. Jim Boeheim is as confident a guy as any you will meet and his teams reflect that.
Boeheim doesn't like watching film -- ask the USA Basketball guys. He constantly complained that they watched too much film. He doesnt like shoot-arounds, which he views as a waste of time and a player's energy. What he does believe in is confidence. Why is Syracuse's non-conference schedule generally soft? Not because Boeheim is scared -- far from it -- it is because he wants his players believing they are going to make every shot, and win every game before they get to conference play.
His offense, while fairly basic, is built around clean spacing, and giving players an opportunity to score from places they are comfortable. They run isolations for C.J. Fair and simple pin-downs for Trevor Cooney. While Syracuse's spacing and ball screen action has become much more complex in terms of angles and off the ball movement since Boeheim started working with Coach K and Mike D'Antoni and the Dream/Redeem teams, the action is still fairly simple in its design.
Take a huge possession with 25 seconds left in the Orange's loss to Michigan last year, in which Brandon Triche was called for a charge. That was “single double,” an easily defensible play that allows the point guard to go one-on-one if it breaks down. Simple, player-friendly and placing confidence in guys to make plays and not overthink a “set.”
Sure, Boeheim may complain or browbeat his centers or guys that are worker bees, but his stars he coddles, and drives to believe not only are they going to win, they're the reason it will happen. His best players -- Derrick Coleman, Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara and C.J. Fair -- they all have that gait, that walk that gives a sense of "I'm going take this ball and get my team a bucket," and often times they do.
Look at the zone defense. The zone is a cocky zone. The guards are extended way too high, daring you to hit the high post, the wings are too high, daring you to hit the corner or the short corner where they will be trapped. Heck, if you look at the zone, the Orange dares you to take it into their shot blockers, because they are confident in their length and shot-changing athleticism. Boeheim's zone keeps his players fresh for offense, normally keeps them out of foul trouble and keeps opponents' offense out of their man-offense, which they run 90% of every practice during the season -- until they prepare for Syracuse.
Now, think back to Wednesday night against Pitt at the Oakland Zoo. Think of Syracuse down five, and C.J. Fair hits a corner 3, then hits a mid-range pull-up on the other side. That is Fair's game, but it is also Boeheim's confidence in him. Then on the last shot, it isn't that Boeheim drew up some masterpiece, but the simple idea of having the big men and Cooney spaced down the floor, looking first for C.J. Fair, then to ball-handler Tyler Ennis as the second option. Having Jerami Grant inbound the ball and run to the rim, and letting Ennis just go is simple, clean, confident and Boeheim.
After the game Boeheim put it best.
“It was a little lucky, but I didn't hear Duke say they were lucky when they drove up the court and hit an off balance three to tie it,” he said, referencing the overtime thriller between the two teams earlier this month.
Classic Boeheim. He is right, he is confident and his players feel that. Did he have to mention Duke, who the Orange will see again next weekend? No, but he did, why? Because he can. He is Jim Boeheim.