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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.

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