It’s even worse when Sindelar is playing golf on the road.
“At tournaments, I’ve had people come up, going, `Syracuse is up seven at the half.’ And I’m going, `No! Don’t tell me! I’ve got it recorded,’ he recalled. ” It really is an addiction for me.”
Being raised in upstate New York set the hook. Living two hours southwest from campus ensures a steady supply. But what really turned Sindelar orange for life was a golf match in the mid-1970s, when he teamed up with then-high school rival and future pro Mike Hulbert and crushed a young Syracuse basketball assistant and golf coach named Jim Boeheim and his partner in a best-ball tournament in Ithaca. Not long after that beating by Hulbert and Sindelar, Boeheim dropped the golf duties and became head basketball coach.
Worked out well for all three of them. No word yet on their fourth.
Year after year, either because they’re teams were already out of the tournament or never got in, Boeheim and John Chaney, who coached Temple back in the day, would sit in the stands at games and wonder what they were doing wrong. When he wasn’t courtside covering a game himself, AP college basketball writer Jim O’Connell would go over occasionally and join them.
He remembers the conversation often revolving around zone defenses _ both Boeheim and Chaney were throwbacks that way _ and why this team or that was still playing, when they couldn’t stop an usher from scoring if he wandered down from the seats and onto the floor, then happened to catch the ball in the paint.
All these years later Boeheim is one of the winningest coaches in the game and still the only one who uses a 2-3 zone full-time. That’s why O’Connell thinks he’ll beat Ohio State.
“In the NBA, it’s man-to-man defense all the time and college guys who want to get there hate playing zone. They think it’s a waste of their time. Plus it’s harder to teach than people think,” he said.
“Boeheim’s a genius that way. He recruits guys with big wingspans _ look at the three guys on the baseline for Syracuse; when their arms are stretched, they practically reach baseline to baseline standing in one spot. If you don’t think that gets into an opponent’s head, ask Ohio State at the end tonight.
Coaches call players like that “long,” and they’re desirable as recruits go. But somebody has to put the ball in the basket on other end, too. Boeheim’s real genius was convincing the few McDonald’s All-Americans he was able to recruit early on that defense was more than the time that elapsed between their last shot and the next. Now he’s got it all, and a better seat for games in the bargain.
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