Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has a lot of big wins on his resume, which includes the national championship he led his alma mater to in 2003. On the road to that title, which the Orange won with an 81-78 victory over Kansas in the New Orleans Superdome, Syracuse beat Auburn (Sweet 16) and Oklahoma (Elite Eight) in Albany, New York to punch their ticket to the Final Four.
Since 2003 Syracuse has played in the Times Union Center just once, beating Siena (who calls that building home) in 2004. While in Albany for Howard Garfinkel’s coaching clinic this weekend Boeheim discussed the pro-Syracuse crowd that filled the building for the wins over Auburn and Oklahoma, and he also stated a desire to make a return trip to the capital city at some point in the future according to Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times-Union.
“I knew we’d have fans, but I didn’t think it would be like that,” Boeheim said of the downtown arena known then as Pepsi Arena and now as Times Union Center. “It was almost better than a home game. Smaller building, and it was loud. It was crazy. It was a great, great venue, and great crowd.”
Did he like it enough to want to bring his team back?
“I’d like to play down here,” said Boeheim, whose Orange played Siena in 2004, drawing 14,743 to Pepsi Arena. “We got a great response. We had talked to Siena about playing a couple of times, and the last time I talked to my crazy friend there at Siena (coach Jimmy Patsos), he said that we might play. Maybe we will play. I like coming here.”
For 19 home dates last season Siena averaged 5,707 fans per game, a figure that ranked 94th nationally last season and led the way for MAAC programs. Obviously having Syracuse visit would provide a nice boost to the home ticket sales, with 14,743 fans showing up for their 2004 meeting.
Setting up a game would give Syracuse fans in the region an opportunity to see their team up close, and there would be financial benefits for Siena as well. The question now is whether or not the two programs will look to make that a reality.