Jim Boeheim warns coaches attending his session of this weekend’s Nike basketball camp at Creighton that he’s all about business.
“A long time ago, I went to a clinic where a name coach was speaking,” the legendary Syracuse coach said in an interview with The World-Herald. “He told story after story for an hour. When I looked down at my notepad after he was done talking, it was blank.
“That made me determined that when I go speak at a clinic, I’m going to try to make sure that the coaches coming in are going to get something out of it.”
Boeheim ranks second among active coaches in victories, and will speak for 75 minutes Saturday afternoon on Syracuse’s zone defense and its running game.
Boeheim will headline the three-day clinic that begins Friday afternoon at Creighton’s D.J. Sokol Arena. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith and Kansas State’s Bruce Weber will speak Friday.
Ed Janka, director of clinics for Nike, said he expects more than 300 coaches to attend the event.
“And you don’t have to be a coach,” he said. “If you’re a fan and interested in learning more about basketball, we’d welcome you.’’
The clinic costs $150 and registrations are accepted at the door. Additional information can be obtained at basketballcoach.com.
Q: Big-picture question, Jim. What’s your take on the state of college basketball these days?
A: There is a lot more equality in college basketball. A lot of teams have a chance to compete and that brings great balance to the game. There’s much more parity, with the middle teams closer to the top and the bottom teams closer to the middle. That’s a good thing. I think a lot of the movements in all the conferences are a little crazy. I’ve always been a guy that sees value in playing in your own area but we’re not going back there. Overall, I think college basketball has put itself in a great position.
Q: Syracuse is one of those schools making a move in conferences, going from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast. What are your thoughts on the move?
A: As I said, I’m old fashioned. I’d like to stay close to the area where we’re located. And that’s one reason we’re going to the ACC. The Big East was getting too spread out, now that there are going to be two schools in Texas. In the ACC, other than our trip to Miami, most of our other trips are within an hour and a half. Plus, there will be six former Big East schools in the ACC.
Q: With everything you’ve accomplished, what keeps you going at this point in your career?
A: I really get excited about the prospects of putting a team together. I’m just as excited about that now as I was in my first year or 10th year or 20th year. I still have that desire to go out there and compete, and I’m fortunate that I’m still able to do it.
Q: Do you foresee a time when you might not have that same excitement and start thinking it’s time to spend more time on the golf course than the basketball court?
A: I feel just as strongly about everything that you need to do in this job as I ever have. Those feelings aren’t getting any weaker. And, if I didn’t have those same feelings, it might be time to get out. I know that I’m not going to be coaching forever. I’m getting closer to a time when I’ll have to make some decisions but that time isn’t now.
Q: Your team won 34 games last season and made it to the Elite Eight but you also had to deal with the sex abuse scandal involving your longtime assistant, Bernie Fine, and with allegations that former players were allowed to play despite failed drug tests. How did you deal with the off-court distractions?
A: One of the things we always tell the players is that things are going to happen away from the court but that you always have to come ready to play. Certainly, last year was a difficult time to go through but I felt I owed it to that group to do the best coaching job that I could do. That superseded anything that might be happening on the outside. You’re always going to have distractions, and some years they are bigger than others. But again, we tell our players that they have to overcome their distractions, whether that’s your girlfriend is breaking up with you or you’re having problems at home. It was a difficult year with a lot of things going on but we still managed to have the best regular season that we’ve ever had. That says a lot about our players.
Q: Did going through a season like that re-energize you or beat you down?
A: The good parts definitely re-energized me, and the bad parts beat you down. But that’s no different than anything that’s worth doing. I know it’s not going to be easy, and last year was more difficult than most. But you try to balance the good with the bad. The great thing about last year is that I had a group of guys that was fun to be around.
Q: What’s the outlook for this season?
A: We lose four top players — our conference’s defensive player of the year and our top three scorers. Normally, when that happens, you’re going to have some issues but we played 10 guys regularly last year. We have six guys back, and they’re not just bench players. We have a couple of starters coming back, and we had two outstanding freshmen — guys that are as good as any we’ve had.
Q: As well as being an assistant on the past two U.S. Olympic teams, you’re in charge of the group that helps select players for the national teams in international competition. A couple of years ago, Creighton’s Doug McDermott played on the under-19 national team. What do you think about Doug as a player?
A: I always tell him that he’s really had to work to overcome his father’s coaching. That tells me he’s a great player right there (laughs). Seriously, when Doug came into our camp a couple of years ago, I told people that he was going to be one of the players that would make the team. Some of the others on the committee were shocked that I said that, but I knew he was really a terrific player. He could play anywhere in the country. It’s fun watching him play because he’s really, really good. And his father is a tremendous coach. I have two sons 14 and 12. I want them to become as good as Doug is so that I might be fortunate enough to coach them in college.
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