Huggs Impressed With Boeheim's Consistency
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won his 900th career game on Monday night against Detroit, making him one of only three men’s Division I coaches with more than 900 career victories. The other two are Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902).
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has witnessed first-hand Boeheim’s success, both as a West Virginia player facing Boeheim’s Syracuse teams in the mid-1970s and also sitting across the scorer’s table matching wits against him as a head coach.
“You’ve got to be really old (to get 900 victories),” Huggins joked.
True, but you’ve also got to be really good at what you do, too.
“What he’s done is incredible,” said Huggins. “He was coaching when I played there and you had to walk across the dirt to get on to the floor at old Manley Field House. They go to the Final Four with Louie Orr, who they sign in August, and Roosevelt Bouie, who, if what they said is true, the tallest person he played against his whole high school career was his sister.”
Boeheim replaced Roy Danforth in 1976 and hit the ground running at Syracuse, leading the Orangemen (as they were known back then) to a 26-4 record and an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 appearance in his rookie season. He won at least 20 games in 18 out of his first 19 seasons at Syracuse, including 14 NCAA tournament trips in his first 16 years there.
Overall, Boeheim’s teams have made 29 NCAA tournament appearances, captured an NCAA title in 2003 and reached the Final Four three times while winning 20 games on an annual basis. Now 68, Boeheim currently has his team halfway to 20 victories once again this year with a 10-0 record following Monday night’s 72-68 win over Detroit.
Boeheim has also won his fair share of games against West Virginia, his Syracuse teams beating the Mountaineers 22 out of 28 times, including winning 13 out of the last 14 while the two schools were still in the Big East before West Virginia's switch to the Big 12 this season.
John Beilein, now coaching the nation’s third-ranked team at Michigan, went winless in six tries against Boeheim during his WVU tenure, his Mountaineer teams frequently absorbing blowout losses to them, especially in the Carrier Dome.
And I recall Gale Catlett, in response to Boeheim critics who sometimes say his success has come solely on the basis of recruiting great players, once telling me, “All you hear about is that he’s got all of these great players, but guess what, he gets into that damned zone defense that no one can seem to figure out and his best players always shoot the ball. To me, that’s great coaching,” Catlett said.
That’s a great point.
Huggins, nine years younger than Boeheim and just 186 wins off of Boeheim’s current pace, has been impressed with Boeheim’s long and impressive record.
“He’s done a great job and he’s done it a lot of different ways,” noted Huggins.
And so has Huggins. Perhaps down the line Huggs may one day be staring at 900 victories as well.