Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim spent 32 days at home alone watching basketball during the middle of the season.
That was his punishment for NCAA infractions, and he made the most of it, taking a lesson for retirement. Boeheim, whose 10th-seeded team plays No. 7 Dayton at 12:15 p.m. Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Scottrade Center, plans to step down for good after the 2017-18 season.
“I learned that it’s not fun sitting at home for 32 days when you haven’t been able to plan it,” Boeheim said Thursday. “Make sure you have a plan. Obviously I didn’t have a plan for 32 days. People told me, ‘Well, go play golf.’ How do you go play golf when your team’s getting beat by 10, 15 points someplace? I don’t think that’s a good picture to put in the paper, which I’m sure they would — Jim Boeheim playing golf and his team’s losing.”
Boeheim missed nine games from Dec. 5 through Jan. 5, and the Orange went 5-4. They lost their last three during that stretch to Pittsburgh, Miami and Clemson.
“You sit home; you watch the games,” Boeheim said. “Nobody really wanted to watch them with me, I guarantee you that. I now realize what fans do when I always laugh at them that you’re yelling at the television. That’s what you do when you’re not there. It was difficult. I got to go see my kids play a little bit more. But I usually get to see their games anyway.”
Syracuse didn’t play in the tournament last season because of a self-imposed postseason ban, but with an 18-13 record, it likely wouldn’t have received an at-large berth anyway.
There was debate about whether Syracuse should ban itself last season or wait until this season. The long wait would have been agonizing, Boeheim said, and that was one reason they decided to take the punishment last season.
“It turned out to be beneficial because we might not have made it last year, and we did make it this year,” Boeheim said. “And the other reason that I wanted to take the ban — and I thought it was the right move — is there were only two months left. We only had one senior last year, and he had played in three tournaments and one Final Four. The two other seniors we had were coming back. So we only really took it away from one guy, and it turned out we didn’t take it away from him anyway because he wouldn’t have gone.”
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