Indiana Basketball – the Fun of Mocking Jim Boeheim Is at Stake Tonight in Syracuse

by Kent Sterling

If Indiana wins tonight, fans get to make fun of Jim Boeheim again.

If Indiana wins tonight, fans get to make fun of Jim Boeheim again.

The 2-3 zone has been mostly relegated to the dustbin of defensive contrivances employed by coaches of fourth grade basketball teams who don’t know enough about man-to-man to teach it to children – except in Syracuse.

Jim Boeheim has won 927 games using the 2-3 zone as his defense since 1976.  That puts him only 36 wins behind Mike Krzyzewski for the all-time lead, which makes it hard to mock the guy or his teams.

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It was especially hard last March to feel superior to Boeheim as his Syracuse team sent the best Indiana team in 20 years home after vexing the Hoosiers with the same 2-3 he’s been running forever.  The 61-50 loss ended the dream of a sixth NCAA title, but as is always the case in sports, more chances always loom on the horizon.

Tonight, Indiana will be at the Carrier Dome to face another test administered by Professor Boeheim.  Syracuse is never great, but always seem to be good.  One National Championship is a testimony to a lack of greatness, but anyone who scoffs at the Orange for repeatedly selling out with their 2-3 makes a mistake.

If beating Syracuse was as easy as moving the ball quickly and popping it into the middle, Boeheim would have been fired before the Reagan Administration began.

The days when Indiana fans could feel superior to those from Syracuse are over.  Current students at Indiana can’t remember a time when Indiana’s program was superior to the collection of talented but flawed kids who guarded their areas instead of men in the New York snow belt.

Jim Boeheim is relentlessly nice, and he looked it.  If you see him at the host hotel for the National Association of Basketball Coaches confab that runs concurrent to the Final Four, he will be gracious, decent, and accommodating.  He treats fans and media with respect.  To IU fans, that made him a bigger sap than what they already thought he was.

Indiana fans reflected their coach back in the day.  They were haughty asses, and loved every minute of it.  Those days are over – ruined by Bob Knight’s reluctance to recruit, Mike Davis’s indifference to IU’s history, and Kelvin Sampson’s unfortunate combination of arrogance and stupidity.

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My theory is that Indiana fans miss the license to mock others more than they miss the wins, and while Tom Crean has provided wins, it will take National Championships to credential fans to be worthy of ridiculing a coach like Boeheim.

Most of the old time guys who IU honks berated are retired or dead, but Boeheim continues to plow through the decades with eternal youth and consistent results.  Dean Smith, Dale Brown, Eldon Miller, Joe B. Hall, Lou Henson, and countless others were targets of Hoosier condescension for generations.

Hard to mock Boeheim now, and unless Indiana can outpace last season’s clunker, Hoosier fans will be forced to endure another loss against the same guy who used to be easy pickins.

This game tonight isn’t for bragging rights – it’s for mocking rights.

6 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball – the Fun of Mocking Jim Boeheim Is at Stake Tonight in Syracuse

  1. Doug A

    I think last March’s game still has this Hoosier fans stomach in knots. I also feel you can never laugh again at Boeheim because of that game. Did we really lose by only 9 last year? Seems like it was 50!!! LOL We are young….they are # 8 in the country…..and we play at their house….not a recipe for success….but I will be watching the whole game just hoping this young athletic talent of the Hoosiers can hang and maybe pull out a win!!

  2. Philboyd Studge

    I guess it’ll be a while before IU fans earn mocking rights if having a team that doesn’t get blown out and score more than one field goal every 15 minutes or so is part of what is required.

    Meanwhile, anyone who still finds it worth the bother can mock the Candystriped Crean Clappers.

    While much of this post was merely inane and fatuous one part was laughably inaccurate Kent: the notion that any Hoosier ever earned the right to feel superior to Joe B. Hall. Hall had a winning record against Indiana. Kentucky and Indiana played two truly meaningful games during Hall’s tenure: in the NCAA tournaments of 1975 and 1983. Both times the favorite gagged and a loud mouthed bully got out coached. A number 1 seed and a number 5 seed got their asses spanked and sent back to the sticks by their betters from Kentucky. Remember Kent? If not, you can look it up.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Your use of both inane and fatuous to describe the post was inane and redundant. Inane and fatuous mean the same thing – neither is necessary to clarify the writer’s meaning of the other.

      If not for the injuries to Scott May and Ted Kitchel, neither game would have been won by Kentucky. To make lemonade of the lemons that fell on the Hoosiers’ heads in Knoxville, I was able to sell my ticket to the resulting UK vs. Louisville tilt for a significant profit.

      A Kentuckian referring to Bloomington, Indiana, as “the sticks” is truly fatuous.

      Joe Hall never out coached anyone. When it won, Kentucky out-talented people through recruiting with cash-filled shoeboxes and accommodations in Wildcat Lodge.

      1. Philboyd Studge

        Typical Indiana fan, making crybaby excuses for losses decades in the past. As for Joe B. Hall not out-coaching anyone, he was on the bench as head coach or top assistant for 21 UK-IU games and Kentucky won 12 of them. I’m sure you have a weakling’s explanation for every one of the defeats, being a true Hoosier.

        Aside from coaching, Hall is a genuinely decent man. No one has ever said that of Bobby Knight, a man so morally bankrupt he got himself run out of Bloomington in disgrace.

        As for you giving writing advice, that’s like Kelvin Sanctions giving ethics lessons or Tom Crean tutoring someone on attacking the 2-3 zone. It reminds me of the story about Tim McCarver going out to the mound to tell Bob Gibson how to pitch a batter. “All you know about pitching is you can’t hit it,” he said.

        1. kentsterling Post author

          And you take the typical UK road of discounting all losses as unimportant games and alibiing your weak vocabulary.

          There are plenty of people for recount moments of decency and generosity in Knight’s behavior. His sacrifices in visiting ill fans and raising money for worthy causes are legendary, just not well-publicized. Sure, he had moments of lunacy, but virtually all of his players graduated and live productive lives.

          So many of the IU players have become coaches or front office executives, they are almost impossible to count.

          I’m hardly a Knight apologist, but to discount him as morally bankrupt is intellectually turgid.

          I’ve never heard a bad word about Hall – other than his ability to develop players and strategize. Many players disgressed under Hall – Hord, Hurt, Minniefield, Beal, Bennett, and Blackckmon are among the legion of players who showed up hopeful they would become great college players after promising freshmen.

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