Jim Boeheim’s legendary basketball coaching career comes to an end

Boeheim's legendary coaching career ends

Adrian Autry takes over the program as SU basketball suffers 77-74 heartbreaking loss to Wake Forest in ACC Tournament.
Published: March 8, 2023
GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 08: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange walks off the court after the loss to Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Greensboro Coliseum on March 8, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/The Newshouse)
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim walks off the Greensboro Coliseum court after his team's loss to Wake Forest on Wednesday.

Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim’s 47 years as Syracuse’s head coach and six decades with the Orange came to close Wednesday.

Associate head coach Adrian Autry, who played for Boeheim from 1990-94 and returned to SU as assistant coach in 2011, was named the Orange’s new head coach.

After growing up an hour west of Syracuse in Lyons, Boeheim enrolled at SU in 1962 and joined the basketball team as a walk-on. He would become team captain by his senior year along with future NBA Hall of Famer David Bing.  In 1969, Boeheim was hired as a graduate assistant and in 1976 was named head coach.

In his tenure as head coach, Boeheim won one national championship in 2003 and made appearances in the NCAA tournament 34 times including five Final Four appearances, most recently in 2016.

Boeheim reigns as the second winningest Division I head coach in history with 1,016 wins, one spot behind former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,202).

“There is no doubt in my mind that without Jim Boeheim, Syracuse basketball would not be the powerhouse program it is today,” SU Chancellor Kent Syverud said in an university press release.

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Associate head coach Adrian Autry joins head coach Jim Boeheim in challenging a referee's call during the SU-Duke on Feb. 23, 2019 in the Carrier Dome.

Autry played under Boeheim for the Orange from 1990-1994, and three of those four years SU went to the NCAA tournament.

After graduating from Syracuse, Autry played on multiple European league teams and in the United States Basketball League. He went on to start his coaching career in 2006 as associate head coach at Bishop Ireton Catholic High School in Virginia.

After coaching on the AAU and high school levels, Autry transitioned into a director of basketball operations role at Virginia Tech where he later was promoted to assistant coach.

He was hired as an assistant coach for SU’s team before the the 2011-12 season and then promoted to associate head coach in March 2017.

“I have spent much of my time in the game of basketball learning from Jim (Boeheim) and am so grateful to him for preparing me to carry on the winning tradition that is Orange basketball,” Autry said per university press release. “It’s hard to imagine a world without him on the bench, but together with our coaches, student-athletes and fans, we will build on decades of successes as a winning program.”

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Syracuse's assistant coaches Gerry McNamara and Adrian Autry talk to Malachi Richardson (23) in an exhibition game at Carrier Dome on Nov. 8, 2015.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim delivers a speech after Gerry McNamara's and Hakim Warrick's jersey retirement ceremony on Saturday, March 4, 2023 at JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim delivers a speech after Gerry McNamara's and Hakim Warrick's jersey retirement ceremony on March 4, 2023, at JMA Wireless Dome.

SU students react to Boeheim’s exit

As the news broke late Wednesday afternoon, students expressed mixed feelings about the long-running head coach’s departure including some who said it was long overdue.

“I feel like it’s about time,” information management and technology senior Mikayla Flynn said. “He kind of overstayed his welcome. My whole family are big Syracuse fans. My mom went to Syracuse and even she said she felt as though it was time for him to retire.”

Economics senior Andrew Smyrak said SU basketball benefitted from Boeheim’s legacy

“I would say if he still stayed, he brings a lot of the recruits,” Smyrak said. “We just have to see what the next few years is like.”

Sophomore Raymond Beacom is trying to look on the bright side of things.

“Honestly, I’m a little bit surprised and they (SU team) haven’t been doing that well,” Beacom said. “Hopefully it’s for the best and everything will be better.”

Wake Forest v Syracuse
Benny Williams reacts after a play against the Wake Forest at Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday during the ACC Tournament second round game.

Syracuse falls in heartbreaking loss to Wake Forest

In Wednesday’s battle against No. 9-seed Wake Forest in Greensboro, N.C., the Orange fought valiantly but lost 77-74 in gut-wrenching fashion.

The first half was mostly a game of runs. After the Demon Deacons opened up play 4-0, the No. 8-seed Orange responded with a 22-6 run. Wake followed up by going on a 19-7 run to tie the game up. At half, the Orange led 35-33.

Sophomore Benny Williams and freshman Chris Bell combined for an unexpected 18 first-half points, including four threes in the first frame, helping make up for seniors Joseph Girard III and Jesse Edwards. The two seniors struggled to find a rhythm to start the game, combining for only eight points on seven shots.

Williams recorded his third double-double of the season with 18 points and tied his career-high in rebounds with 11.

Syracuse did a good job of preventing ACC leading scorer Tyree Appleby from going off, only scoring eight points in the first 20 minutes and forcing him to become a facilitator. 

Wake Forest got off to a fast start in the second half, scoring a quick four points, taking their first lead since the score was 6-5. But Syracuse did not falter, Edwards found Bell for his third three of the game after being doubled, and then threw down an emphatic slam that he was fouled on, putting the Orange up four.  

The Demon Deacons then retook the lead, going on a 17-1 run to go up 54-42. With 12 minutes left in the game, Syracuse hoops needed some energy to help extend their season. 

After a Judah Mintz 3-pointer to cut Wake’s lead down to 10, the Orange started pressing, which frazzled Wake Forest’s ball handlers. It led to multiple turnovers including a Quadir Copeland strip that went off Appleby before going out of bounds, which helped the Orange cut the lead to one. 

After Williams converted his free throw on an And-one, SU tied up the game after being down 13 not long before. 

Wake Forest v Syracuse

Wake Forest's Andrew Carr (11) and SU's Benny Williams (13) compete for the ball during Wednesday's ACC Tournament game.

Wake Forest v Syracuse

Jesse Edwards (14) rebounds the ball against the Demon Deacons on Wednesday at Greensboro Coliseum.

The final five minutes of the game was a dog fight. The Demon Deacons and the Orange went blow for blow, three for three. With 2:39 left in the contest, down three, Syracuse was in a position to win the game, which seemed unimaginable.

After a Mintz layup to put Wake’s lead at just one, Williams hit a massive shot behind the arc to put Syracuse up 74-72 for their first lead since early in the half. After the Deacons tied the game up, Syracuse had a chance to take the lead and keep their season alive.

Looking calm and collected in the huddle, Syracuse’s final possession was anything but composed. Girard put up a bad shot and missed badly, which gave Wake Forest an opportunity to win the game…and the Demon Deacons seized the opportunity.

Redshirt Daivien Williamson hit a three from 27 feet out, ending Syracuse’s season in heartbreaking fashion, the only fitting way considering how their season went.

Mark Budd contributed to this report

Wake Forest v Syracuse
Judah Mintz hangs his head after ripping his jersey following Wednesday's loss to Wake Forest in the final seconds.