At halftime of the Syracuse-West Virginia game Sunday, one of Orange coach Jim Boeheim’s best players at any point moved toward Boeheim’s most youthful son.
Syracuse assistant Gerry McNamara had a straightforward message for junior guard Buddy Boeheim: Keep shooting. Regardless of whether you miss 200 shots.
Boeheim finished, scoring 22 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as No. 11 seed Syracuse held off No. 3 seed West Virginia 75-72 in the second round of the NCCA competition at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Orange advance to the Sweet 16, their 20th under Jim Boeheim. Buddy Boeheim proceeded with his splendid postseason – he’s averaging 28.3 points with 24 3-pointers in two ACC competition games and two NCCA competition games – as Syracuse progressed to its third Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed since 2016.
As per research by the Elias Sports Bureau, Buddy Boeheim’s 55 points in the initial two NCCA competition games mark the third-most in team history, following Gary Clark (60 out of 1957) and McNamara (56 out of 2004).
“There’s no one better than G-Mac,” Buddy Boeheim said. “He’ll always be the best shooter who came to Syracuse. Just being able to work with him every day is a dream come true for me. Just being around him every day, taking knowledge from him. … ‘You’re the best shooter on the planet’ is what he usually tells me, and I say, ‘Yeah.’ He knows how to motivate me. He knows I need confidence sometimes. He’s like a big brother to me, and something I’ll cherish forever.”
Boeheim opened the game with a 3-pointer however then missed his other five shots in the first half. He hit two 3-pointers early in the second half as Syracuse extended its lead to 46-35. Boeheim said his mindset toward missing shots has improved from before in the year.
“The ball’s finding him when he’s open,” Jim Boeheim said. “He had some really good looks today. I’m surprised, he was 6-for-13 [from 3-point range], I’m surprised he wasn’t 10-for-13, really, the way he’s been shooting it. I know he was disappointed in himself at halftime, but he showed what he’s made of.”
Jim Boeheim praised his son’s journey, from a low-rated select to a walk-on for the Orange. Boeheim noticed that while he’s had a lot of dedicated parts in 45 seasons at Syracuse, “he works harder than anybody that I’ve ever coached, and it’s not close.”
The Sweet 16 has taken on added importance for Jim Boeheim, who said he frequently didn’t praise the achievement prior in his career. Syracuse in 2018 was among the last four at-large teams and needed to beat Arizona State in the First Four preceding disturbing TCU and afterward Michigan State. In 2016, the 10th-seed Orange went .500 in ACC play however beat Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Gonzaga and Virginia prior to falling to North Carolina in the Final Four.
“We’d like to be good in the regular season and the tournament,” Jim Boeheim said, “but when you’re not as good as you’d like to be in the regular season, let’s play well in the tournament, and that’s what these guys have done.”
Buddy Boeheim defended his dad’s history, saying that following a misfortune a month ago to Georgia Tech, he “saw a lot of stuff on Twitter, talking about him, just crazy stuff.”
“Do you know how many people would dream about going to two Sweet 16s, two Final Fours and an Elite Eight in 10 years? I think that’s pretty good,” Buddy Boeheim said “He’s never had a losing season, back in the Sweet 16. He’s one of the best coaches in all of sports, there’s no doubt about it.
“It’s no better feeling than helping bring him to another Sweet 16.”
While Buddy Boeheim saw the web-based media analysis, his kid father surely didn’t.
“I don’t hear it because it’s from people that are inconsequential,” Jim Boeheim said. “They don’t matter. Not one sentence on the internet matters. Not one. … If you’re coaching at Syracuse for 45 years, everybody has an opinion about what we should do or shouldn’t do, or that we should be better or not. Maybe the next coach will be better. That’s great. I’ll be happy to see that. But I do not worry about what anyone says in Syracuse.”
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