Syracuse coach keeps focus in tumultuous season

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On Monday night, Syracuse beat nemesis Pittsburgh 71-63 to snap a five-game losing streak against the Panthers and set the school record for most wins at the start of a season.

“Nothing he does surprises me because he’s done it for so long,” said Bill Raftery, who called the game for ESPN. “I think he just coaches. He doesn’t worry. He’s got a singular responsibility once he’s in the gym, and that’s what he does. And they respond to him.”

The triumph was Boeheim’s 876th, tying him for fourth all-time in men’s Division I with Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp and only three behind Dean Smith of North Carolina. Most now expect that total to rise well beyond 900 before Boeheim retires, a milestone reached only by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and his mentor, Bob Knight.

“He’s earned our respect,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said of Boeheim. “He’s earned everybody in the business’ respect. It’s amazing what he’s done.”

Last year’s team started 18-0, then lost four straight before rebounding. Nobody expects that this year, and Boeheim is hopeful it won’t.

“It’s always easier to win than lose. When you’re losing, it seems like a long season,” he said.

“I’ve been there. When you’re struggling, it seems like it will never get over,” he said. “These guys have played well and it’s a good team to coach. We know we have a long way to go yet. That’s something we are very aware of.”

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AP Basketball Writer Jim O’Connell in New York City contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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