By Ashley Walls
The score was 60-58 at the Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 22. No. 1 Syracuse had possession, and the Orange were in the perfect position to tie things up with a two or, better yet, win the game with a three.
Syracuse senior C. J. Fair drove baseline to the rim over No. 5 Duke’s defense, but the referees thought Fair’s drive was a little too aggressive. They called him for a charge with 10.4 seconds left in the game, and that’s when the chaos began.
Immediately after the whistle blew, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim – who has yet to crack more than two smiles in his 38 seasons of coaching the Orange – half-stomped and half-stormed towards the referees with visible smoke coming out of his ears.
To put it plainly, he went ballistic. The referees called a double-technical foul on the normally-calm coach, and Duke took advantage of the change of events. Upon Boeheim’s ejection from the game, Duke’s Quinn Cook made three free throws to make the score 63-58 with 10.4 seconds left. Duke won the game 66-60.
But while Jim Boeheim’s actions cost Syracuse a loss to a team they’d beaten in overtime earlier this season, his moves proved to Syracuse fans that basketball is about a little more than winning.
Yeah, Duke won. Yeah, Syracuse fans wish they’d prevailed against their budding rival. But I think Boeheim’s paternal-like actions showed Syracuse fans that he wasn’t going to stand by and watch injustice happen.
Though disagreeing with a charge call isn’t an injustice in everyone’s eyes, I applaud Boeheim’s choice to vouch for his players, whatever the call was. I applaud Boeheim for thinking about his players more than he considered himself, and I applaud Boeheim for ultimately showing basketball fans everywhere that coaching is less about winning and more about caring about your players.