Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim’s monstrous tirade at the end of Saturday night’s game against Duke was the newest installation of what is quickly becoming possibly the best rivalry in college basketball. Duke triumphed 66-60 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. after a highly controversial offensive foul call on Syracuse’s C.J. Fair with ten seconds left.
Boeheim’s outrage was profound but not completely unwarranted. After Duke forward Rodney Hood slid under Fair to draw the charge, Boeheim nearly ripped off his suit jacket and sprinted over to the refs hurling profanities. Cops escorted Boeheim to the locker room during his first career ejection of his 38 seasons coaching. After the game, he spoke candidly.
“I just thought that was the worst call of the year, that’s all,” said Boeheim in his press conference after the game. “I hate to see the game decided on that call.”
The now defunct Big East Conference was once the top-tier of basketball. The tension between basketball-only schools and the other multiple-sport schools in the conference had been escalating for a number of years, ultimately tearing the conference apart. It was a sad day for college basketball, but it inadvertently may have created the greatest rivalry in college basketball between Syracuse and Duke after Boeheim’s Orange took its talents to the ACC.
As unforgettable as Saturday’s game was, the second meeting in the rivalry was still severely overshadowed by the first installment on the first day of February. Syracuse won that matchup in overtime 91-89 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in front of over 35,000 people after an unreal game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation by Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon. In overtime of that matchup, Rodney Hood went up for a dunk with 12.2 seconds left and the Blue Devils down a point when he was blatantly fouled on his arm and missed the shot, ultimately causing Duke the game.
“This game will go down in the history books,” said Fair after the Syracuse victory. “It seems like this rivalry has been going on for 30 years, and it’s just the beginning. It shows you how promising the future is for both teams.”
Sports Illustrated‘s Jeff Benedict perfectly documented the new rivalry after game one. “Unlike rivalries that are built on hatred and disdain, this one is built on respect. Boeheim and Kryzyewski coach the Olympic team together. Their players have a similar appreciation for each other. These teams don’t argue. There’s no chest bumping. Just the best brand of basketball in America,” he proclaimed.
Benedict is absolutely right. Boeheim and Duke coach Mike Kryzyewski are two of the most decorated coaches in college basketball history. The fact that Boeheim reacted the way he did during Saturday’s game proved just how much these games mean to his team. This rivalry does not manifest itself in trash talking or taunting, and is definitely not a rivalry fabricated by the media. This is an instance where two of the most storied programs in college history have now found themselves in the same conference.
Luckily, the fans are the beneficiaries who now get to see this matchup at least twice a year. Jim Boeheim’s ejection affirms Syracuse and Duke’s budding heated rivalry, and now maybe fans will even lucky enough to see a couple more suit jackets ripped off in a fit of rage.
Editorial by Justin Hussong