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Jim Boeheim passes Knight for 2nd on career wins list

Jan 2, 2013, 9:59 PM EDT

Jim Boeheim AP

Brandon Triche had 25 points and six assists and Michael Carter-Williams chipped in with his eighth double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points and 10 assists, as No. 7 Syracuse knocked off Rutgers 78-53 in the Big East opener for both teams.

Under normal circumstances, this result wouldn’t be noteworthy.

Syracuse is supposed to beat Rutgers at home every year, especially in seasons where the Orange are slotted amongst the handful of teams thought to be potential title contenders.

Except this year is different, because this win just so happened to be Boeheim’s 903rd win, which slides him right on past Bobby Knight and into second place all-time behind Coach K.

To get an idea of just how many wins that is, think about this stat: since 1947, Rutgers has won exactly 903 games, and they’ve needed 12 coaches to do so. It’s taken Boeheim three fewer decades to reach that number. That’s pretty incredible, and Boeheim deserves all of the words that are going to be written about him in the next couple of days.

But before you take a stance on where Boeheim actually sits on the list of all-time greatest basketball coaches, I want you to stop and think about this shot right here:

What if Keith Smart misses that jumper? What if his off-balance, 15-foot pull-up rims out? What if Syracuse actually wins that 1987 national title game?

Well, obviously, Boeheim would have two national titles instead of one. He’d have one more title than Tom Izzo. And Bill Self. And Rick Pitino and Lute Olson and John Thompson Jr. He’d have as many national titles as Dean Smith and (gasp!) Bobby Knight. Since Boeheim started coaching — which happened to pretty much coincide with John Wooden leaving UCLA — the only coaches that would have won more titles than Boeheim are Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Calhoun.

I have my own issues with the way that Boeheim has run this Syracuse program. I voiced those issues after Boeheim won his 900th game last month. If you want to criticize Boeheim for the way he puts together his non-conference schedule or the number of times his team has been ousted from the tournament earlier than expected, it wouldn’t necessarily be unwarranted.

And that’s before we get to the topic of career milestones. I’ve never been one to put much value into “most (insert stat here) of all-time” lists. Being really good at something for a really long time doesn’t automatically make you the greatest of all-time.

There are valid reasons to be critical of Jim Boeheim as one of the greatest coaches of all-time.

But keeping him off of that list for having just the single NCAA title is to pin his entire legacy on one jumper from Keith Smart.

That’s a lot of weight for one shot to carry.You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. mvaz825 - Jan 2, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Don’t forget University of Tennessee’s Pat Summitt! Second only to John Rupp. Respect and honor ALL NCAA basketball coaches, especially Summitt!

    • florida727 - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      STOP bringing WOMEN’S coaches into a MEN’S post. When women start playing with the same size basketball, playing the game with above the rim athleticism instead of on the floor, and have the speed, quickness and athleticism as men, then and only then, do you draw comparisons. The best women’s team in America would lose by 40 to ANY ranked men’s team. If you can’t see that, you’re delusional. Go post on a women’s basketball blog. Oh wait. That’s right. THERE ISN’T ONE. Why? Because not enough people care. Starting to get it yet?

  2. nickmiller63 - Jan 3, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Doesn’t Knight have 3? 1976, 1981, 1987, or something like that?

  3. nickmiller63 - Jan 3, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Benson, Isiah, Alford teams.

    • Rob Dauster - Jan 3, 2013 at 12:50 AM

      Keith Smart played for Indiana. In this hypothetical, Boeheim gets one of Knight’s titles.

  4. woodstakes - Jan 3, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    I guess haters will hate… But aside from Coach K and possibly Dean Smith in the post Wooden era I don’t think anyone’s stats get much better than his, not sure why he would NOT be mentioned as a top 5 coach of all time. Sure he gets good recruits but he isn’t taking anyone away from Duke, UNC or Kentucky. I think he’s done pretty well with less than what most of the greats had as players.

    Head coaching record
    Overall 903–305 (.748)
    Tournaments 46–27 (NCAA Tournament) (.630)
    Accomplishments and honors
    NCAA Division I National Championship (2003)
    Regional Championships – Final Four (1987, 1996, 2003)
    Big East Tournament Championship (1981, 1988,1992, 2005, 2006)
    Big East Regular Season Championship (1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2003, 2010, 2012)
    Gold medal – Men’s Basketball (2008 Summer Olympics)
    Gold medal – FIBA World Championship (2010)
    Naismith College Coach of the Year (2010)
    AP Coach of the Year (2010)
    NABC Coach of the Year (2010)
    Henry Iba Award (2010)
    The Sporting News National Coach of the Year (2010)
    Big East Coach of the Year (1984, 1991, 2000, 2010)
    John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award (2006)
    Clair Bee Coach of the Year (2000)

  5. effjohntaylornorelation - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Tony Soprano said it best, “rat face.”

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