Guest Contributor: @Jambrones
Coaches earn their keep in crunch time, when split decisions can instantly put players in a position to win.
We are acutely aware of this in Buffalo, where the Bills go through coaches like tampons, in part, because of bad decisions at key points in ballgames.
Tonight, Jim Boeheim will likely pass Bob Knight in total wins as Syracuse plays Rutgers at home. Although this makes me want to throw up, I will acknowledge that Boeheim has done a fantastic job at Syracuse. He knows how the system works in college basketball and he's found success as a result. Boeheim is for the Orange what Buffalo wishes Lindy Ruff was for the Sabres. (Player---Coach---Champion). But, even while he surpasses Knight, let’s not forget that when Boeheim faced Knight head to head for the 1987 National Championship, the better coach, working with less naturally talented players, came through when it mattered.
I now give you the 26 seconds that show Bob Knight > Jim Boeheim.
Syracuse had IU on the ropes…big time. Up one with a guy at the line for a one-and-one. The Hoosiers were desperate, and fouling was their Obi-Wan. Enter smart coaching decisions, exit Boeheim.
Some thoughts on those last seconds:
- Why is Syracuse Freshman Derrick Coleman at the line? You are up 1 point in the NCAA title game and a freshman forward is handling the ball? Wtf?
- After Coleman misses the front end of the one-and-one, Knight does NOT call time out. This was one of Knight’s signature moves (and one I’ve always favored). When your team is well prepared…it’s just another basket. It puts more pressure on the defense. But it takes discipline.
- Color analyst Billy Packer says Syracuse is playing man to man on the last shot. (Not their best defense; Boeheim is a famous 2-3 zone guy) Not sure there, it kinda looks like it could be box and one on Alford (#12). Either way, the defense is a bit unclear. I think they used the box and 1 on Alford some that night, which limited him to SEVEN 3 pointers.
- And notice the Syracuse players standing there stunned after the final shot.
- How can you not stand in awe of the look Knight is giving the ref at the 53 second mark of the video. While winning. Ha.
Yea yea, I know Bob Knight is a menacing asshole. I know he was abusive, but c’mon, Boeheim is “sketchy” in his own way so we’re even, right? You see, Knight is the Buddy Rich of coaches, and like Buddy, he thought he was the best ever. True or not, on the biggest stage, game on the line, he succeeded and Boeheim fell…Chan-Jauron style.
I am, of course, biased. I am the son of IU graduates and was indoctrinated with a love of Indiana Basketball not long after my Buffalo Bills and Sabres microchips were inserted. I was in 7th grade in 1987, and was scared shitless. Cuse was hot, totally had better athletes and I knew it. I had friends that were Cuse fans - I would have had a rough go if IU had lost, especially since I talked a lot of shit about them ... mostly because my parents assured me before the game that there was no way Syracuse would win because, and I quote, they "aren't disciplined enough" to beat Bob Knight and the Hoosiers in such a big game. I fully believed in this and for the first and only time, the team that I rooted for won a championship.
So, as I do congratulate Boeheim and Syracuse fans for the achievement tonight, I will always know that, despite the winning percentages and stat totals, Bob Knight's 1987 victory still stands in the way of a true multiple championship legacy; that Boeheim's legacy will always be a little bit less due to a couple of key decisions during twenty-six crucial seconds.