Legendary Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim’s off-season hasn’t been typical. In fact, it hasn’t even been an off-season.
Instead of recruiting and “resting” for the year ahead, Boeheim is hard at work as an assistant coach for USA Basketball at the London Olympic Games.
Late last week we got the chance to go to a Team USA basketball practice and meet up with Boeheim prior to Monday’s final pool play game against Argentina. After a record-breaking, 83-point win over Nigeria, the U.S. struggled vs. heavy-underdog Lithuania, winning just 99-94.
“Sometimes we forget to give credit to the teams we play,” Boeheim said. “They played well. We missed some shots, missed some free throws and didn’t play the kind of defense we have been playing.”
Boehim was refreshingly honest, or at least it seemed. We interviewed nearly all of Team USA – and as expected – answers to a college program weren’t the most in depth. I don’t mean to say they shrugged us off. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with the responses from most players, and the fact that they took the time.
But Boeheim was different. He gave long, insightful answers. You could tell he’s done this before and knows what the reporters want.
As with any coach, you’re not happy when your team underperforms. There’s no doubt the U.S. did that against Lithuania. But according to Boehim, the close victory could be a blessing in disguise.
“You don’t want to have those games, but you’re going to be in them so you have to know how to win them.”
There’s little doubt Team USA has the best talent of any country. I’ve always had a ton of respect for Coach K and Boeheim. But after just five minutes with the Syracuse coach, I have no doubt in my mind the U.S. has the best coaching staff as well.
Coming off their first test against Lithuania, the USA men’s basketball players were confident heading into their Group A match against Argentina. That confidence paid off, with the Americans topping Manu’s Argentianian squad 126-97.
Team USA knew what they had to do early in order to capitalize. Their bench played a big role in the game.
“We look forward to trying to have an impact in every game,” Andre Iguodola said, a key non-starter for the U.S. “We try to increase the tempo and our energy is always important for us.”
Now the U.S. just needs a similar performance as they head into the semifinals and a rematch with Argentina.
Pat Boylan is a senior telecommunications major and Brandon Pope is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Pat, Brandon and the BSU team at@patboylanbsu, @bpopeizdope, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.