ACC Media Day was held on Wednesday, and Syracuse basketball was represented by head coach Jim Boeheim, guard Joe Girard and center Jesse Edwards. Here is a transcript from their press conference.
Q. Coach, Commissioner Phillips was up here earlier and talked about expanding the NCAA Tournament. I wondered your thoughts on if the event should be expanded. He wants to add some more at-larges.
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, I had that idea 30 years ago. I’ve been knocked down every year I ever brought it up. I stopped bringing it up. Everybody thought I was an idiot. It took 30 years, but I guess I’m maybe right now, huh?
The main thing is there’s so many more good teams now that it should be an easy move, an easy decision. I like the argument that people say, well, it will dilute the tournament. No, it won’t dilute the tournament. It’ll get some more teams in and the bad teams will be out after one round.
How does it dilute anything? How does it dilute the tournament or how does it dilute the regular season? It doesn’t. It doesn’t dilute it at all.
You have to remember, when it was 48 teams there was only 200 — there was a lot of schools that didn’t really emphasize basketball back then that now do and have for decades. It’s an easy move. I have my doubts it’ll fit because it doesn’t fit in the television window. They’ve got the masters there. (Smiling).
Q. Coach, just curious in this off-season how often you’ve been talking with Coach K and if this week feels a little weird and maybe a little sad not to have him around.
JIM BOEHEIM: You know, we never really talked that much in the off-season except when we worked together. He’s busy. He’s gardening and stuff with the grandchildren.
I told him, I said, when it snows out, what are you going to do then? But he’ll be fine.
I think he felt the time was right, and that was clearly something that happened.
When I play Duke, I really don’t worry about him too much. I worry about the guys that are out there on the court. They’re the guys I worry about.
He brought a lot to the college game. More than anyone probably. As did Roy and Jay Wright. Those guys are hard to replace, but as we all know, there’s nobody that’s irreplaceable.
Life goes on.
Q. Joe and Jesse, you’re each returning starters. Joe, describe Jesse’s game. Jesse, describe Joe’s game.
JOSEPH GIRARD III: Yeah, Jesse is obviously a really skilled big man. He’s seven-foot and can do a lot of things around the rim, catch it with both hands, shoot with both hands, and a lot of times as a guard it makes your job easier because you feel like you can throw the ball anywhere near him and he’s going to go catch it.
He is really skilled. Blocks a lot of shots as well on the defensive end. He’s a big piece to what we do, and obviously he’s going to have a big year.
JESSE EDWARDS: I would just say Joe brings all the energy we’ve always had on the court. I remember in my freshman year Joe was starting pretty much one of our first games, and I remember as a freshman you’ve always got to get used to things, but Joe went out there, made some big shots and got everybody fired up, and I was looking at that like yeah, that’s how you’ve got to play.
Yeah, he’s a floor general. He spaces the floor really well. Yeah, it’s always easy to play with him.
Q. Joe, where does that energy come from? Where does is that fire, where is that spirit stoked from? Where is that confidence?
JOSEPH GIRARD III: Yeah, I think it just goes back to the way I was brought up. I graduated with 12 cousins and we were always competing, so it seemed like everything I was doing, whether it was actually a competitive basketball game, competitive football game, backyard football, or pickup basketball, everything we wanted to do was just win.
Whenever I’m out on the court, I kind of have to — I’m not the biggest guy, the fastest guy, or the strongest guy, so I have to figure out different ways for me to get a competitive advantage.
Sometimes it can be psyching myself out and trying to bring more energy for myself and just get myself a little bit of competitive fire in order to get an advantage over the opponent.
Q. Coach, as you look around, things look a little bit different in the gym, in the weight room, in the arena, two less Boeheims. What’s that been like for you?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, I miss them. It was great coaching them. But this group has been so much fun to work with because of these two veterans here and Sy and Benny. The four veterans have really done an unbelievable job.
I think with these two guys, Joe is probably one of the most underrated players that I’ve coached in terms of the respect he should have and what he has. He’s been one of the best guards in the league numbers-wise since he came into the league, and I don’t really think he’s gotten the appreciation he should have.
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I think when he moves over to the 2, most of the time this year I think he’s free to be a better, more offensive minded than he has been because he had to run the team. So I think he’ll be a different kind of player this year as he was when he had to play last year in the Duke game without buddy. I think he had 20 in the first half.
I think Jesse showed last year, his last seven or eight games he averaged 16 or probably 10, right around that number in the league, and I think was just starting to come into his own.
To have these two guys is very important for our team. But the young guys, some freshmen are really not ready to play and contribute right away, and it’s unusual to have six, and I feel that the six freshmen can contribute right away. Obviously some probably more than others.
But I think they can all contribute, and it’s what’ll make us, I think, a good basketball team at the end of the day.
Q. Jim, so many things about college basketball have changed through the years. How have you been able to adapt to all the changes and still do what you do at a high level?
JIM BOEHEIM: Well, you know, coaching is a yearly adaptation from the very beginning when you first start. There’s always something that changes, whether it’s the three-point line, the different emphasis people have on things, freshmen being eligible.
There’s always change. There’s more change, probably 10 times more change in the last two years than has ever happened in college basketball, college athletics really, with the NIL and the transfer portal.
Somebody asked me earlier if I was going to play the young players to keep them in the program, and the answer is no. We play the players that are going to win games. If they’re young, that’s good. If they’re not, that’s the way it is.
But those two changes are the biggest things that we’ve seen. The NIL has become a monster. It was a great idea. It is a great idea. If you kept agents and boosters out of it, it would be a good idea now, but it’s not, and so now we have a whole different thing than what anybody would have imagined a couple years ago, unless you’re one of the few people maybe that’s smart enough to understand when you let boosters get involved and agents get involved, which I think some people thought was a good idea a couple years ago. It’s not a good idea. It’s not a good idea.
It’s different; you adjust to it, and you get ready for the season.
Q. Jesse, you spent time over the summer competing with the Belgian National Team. What were your biggest takeaways? What did you learn?
JESSE EDWARDS: The biggest thing I took away was probably the professionalism with which all the guys and people on the court handle themselves. They’ve been doing it for so many years, and you pretty much learn from anything they do, whether it’s in practice or preparation, whether it’s stretching until 9:00 pm or whatever crazy things they do.
Yeah, you just take little things and try to bring them over here and see where you can implement them, and yeah, just maybe bring a little bit of that back to the college game.
Q. Joe, I’m interested in leadership. How do you describe it and how do you describe your leadership style?
JOSEPH GIRARD III: I think leadership is something that people show and kind of tell, and I think this year with the young guys coming in, the best way to kind of bring them along with you is to kind of show them.
Coach does a really good job of mentoring them but also the assistant coaches do, as well. So when we’re in our groups and we’re working with G-Mac every day, there’s a lot of young guards out there, I try and tell them what Coach Boeheim might like, what he might not like, what G-Mac might like, what he might not like, and try and tell them what to do, but I’ve also got to show them. I can’t just tell them to do something and then not do it myself.
I think the biggest thing about leadership is helping guys along the way when we need help or stepping in when they need it or showing them the proper way to do it, because if they see someone else who’s been there for a while do it, they ‘re likely to follow.
Q. What is it that Coach Boeheim likes and what doesn’t Coach Boeheim like?
JOSEPH GIRARD III: Coach Boeheim likes good basketball. He doesn’t like bad basketball. And if you play the game the right way, usually you’ll be pretty good.
rom receiver to tight end has paid off better than anybody could have imagined at the start of the season for Gadsden. He’s become the big play option for Shrader across the middle and on corner routes in the end zone, both places where Thomas and Gadsden will be operating in shared space on Saturday. In the last two power five matchups, Gadsden has put up at least 100 yards. If the Orange wants to secure bowl eligibility on Saturday, he will need to shake free of Thomas and continue that trend.
RB Sean Tucker vs. DT Corey Durden & DT/DE Davin Vann
Oh, what ‘Cuse fans would do to ensure that Tuck will be sending out his robotic “Pleased” tweet on Sunday or Monday. After an expected breakout game against Wagner, #34 comes back to play against a team that may have the best complete defensive unit in the ACC. We’ve seen the Wes Hoeh fullback experience work to mixed results, and the offensive line has not done a lot of favors for Sean with the false start and holding bug. If Sean is going to crack the century mark, which I believe needs to happen for ‘Cuse to win this game and to savor any last hope of a Sean Tucker’s Heisman campaign is going to start with the offensive line winning the line of scrimmage and getting consist of knock backs on first and second downs. The main two defensive linemen that’ll be looking to disrupt the run game would be Corey Gundsen and Davin Vann. These two play nose tackle and defensive end, respectively, in the Wolfpack’s 3-3-5 scheme. Both guys are multi-year starters that should be able to keep their composition in a hostile Dome environment on Saturday. Durden, a grad transfer from Florida State, is a wide load in that zero tech at 6’4, 300 pounds, and it’ll be crucial that the interior group of Carlos Vettorello, Kalan Ellis, and Chris Bleich ensure that he is not touching Tuck in the backfield. Vann, a true sophomore, is tied for the team lead in sacks with two, and shows impressive motor and hand skills to chase backs down from the backside while tipping the scales at 300 pounds. If Tuck has the type of game that Syracuse fans will be dreaming about Friday night, that means that Vann and Durden’s name won’t have been mentioned much in the Dome on Saturday.
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