Jim Boeheim has done it, 900 wins all at the same school. The Syracuse coach reached that plateau in a 72-68 victory over Detroit.
“I’ve won 900 games because of the coaches and players,” Boeheim told ESPN’s Doris Burke postgame. He also gave credit to Dave Bing, a player he played with with the Orange. Where he started out as a walk-on in 1962.
James Southerland finished with a game-high 22 points for the Orange.
You really have to think of Boeheim among the greats now, if you didn’t already, which would’ve been insane. To reach 900 wins in a coaching career with one team in any sport — maybe sans baseball, due to to 162 game seasons — is incredibly impressive, but to do it at one place is possibly one of the greatest achievements in college sports when you factor in how times have changed. Boeheim might be one of the last coaches that gets to build a dynasty from the beginning to it’s apex. Until he wants to leave, instead of when he’s asked to leave, which has become the status quo among long-time coaches.
As a player, assistant and head coach, Boeheim has spent the last 50 years of his life within the Syracuse men’s basketball program. His entire adult life. Incredible, really. He’s also been able to do it mostly free of the NCAA’s wrath, in terms of major violations. He’s captured a national title. He’s sent numerous kids on to the NBA and to the coaching ranks. He’s graduated players.
You obviously can’t omit the Bernie Fine allegations. But since that has yet to be founded either way and, to this point, there’s no evidence to prove he knew anything, if anything occurred, he’s still a great person. He’s had his spats with the media, fans and administrators. But all coaches, if they’ve been around long enough, do.
In a time when coaches loyalties are normally to themselves, whether you love him or hate him, Boeheim has shown his loyalty to a college town in central New York and built it into a brand. People know Syracuse. It’s grown into the unofficial college of New York state. That, for the most part, is because of Jim Boeheim and the legendary program he helped build over the past 50 years.
Here’s to Boeheim and 900 wins. Whether the 68-year-old is able to catch Mike Krzyzewski for the all-time record — he’s 27 wins behind, which is a good season’s worth — is irrelevant.
He’s already established himself among the legends. Tonight just furthers it.
David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.