“Or how old I am,” Boeheim said with a chuckle. “It’s one of those two things, I guess.”
Season after season, players would come and go, but for the most part, the efficiency, the meticulous execution didn’t change. Each fall, Boeheim would make minor tweaks to his offense, depending on who his go-to guy was at the time, but his defense never blinked, and despite decades of talented teams scouting it, it almost always worked.
The game around him evolved; rules changed; three-point shooting turned strategy on its head. Boeheim always adjusted, and Syracuse basketball remained a constant, an unflappable powerhouse in a constantly shifting landscape.
“I have a great many memories of being involved with this game through the start of the Big East through the things that have happened in the Big East and now moving into the ACC,” Boeheim said. “There have been so many things that happened. I remember when Rick Pitino and I first went on the road recruiting, and all that stuff — the first games and all that. [Coaching the team] against Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin and those guys. It’s been a great experience.”
Boeheim doesn’t sit still long enough to reminisce, much.
“You don’t have time, really, to reflect,” he said. “There will be time for that someday but not now.”
When that is, Boeheim still doesn’t know. It’s not as simple as waiting for the job to stop being fun — he never looked at coaching as fun, anyway, he said, but more internally satisfying. The accomplishments, watching kids develop into men, those are the things he enjoys, a feeling unlikely to fade.
“I don’t know exactly how I’ll know,” he said. “And I’m not sure you do know for sure. But at some point in time, it’ll come.”
Until it does, Boeheim almost surely will remain the same force he always has been, since well before Pitino was born.
It’s enough to make another youthful coach’s head spin, but Pitino, accustomed to working with legendary coaches, insists he won’t be looking down at the other bench Monday.
He knows who’s there, and just what the man is capable of.
“It’s hard to do,” Pitino said. “It’s hard to be really good, year in and year out. You’re more impressed by the culture they’ve created, the culture they’ve established, they’ve got great players from top to bottom. And that’s what you strive to be.”