By BRENDAN McGAIR
PROVIDENCE – Judging by the lengthy soliloquy he delivered following his team’s 72-66 win against the Providence Friars Wednesday night, this city will always hold a special place in Jim Boehiem’s heart.
The veteran Syracuse took a simple question – “Any last thoughts about playing the Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center?” – and ran with it, sounding off for several minutes about his program’s last go-around in the Big East along with the fine Italian restaurants that he always enjoys when bringing his Orange players to town.
“Dave Gavitt started (the Big East) and the league has had an unbelievable 34-year run that nobody thought would happen. He took nothing and made it into the best league in the country,” said Boeheim after his Orange bested the Friars for the 23rd time in 29 tries on Providence’s home floor. “My whole basketball life has really been in the Big East, so it’s a sad time when I come into a town … we’ve been coming to (Providence) for 34 years, so that’s a lot of history.”
Boeheim then addressed the constant expansion that has turned college sports into a freefall of epic proportions – something that has not escaped Syracuse, who will call the ACC home beginning next season.
“Football and basketball schools have to be together,” said Boeheim. “It’s always been about football and it’s always going to be about football.”
The veteran mentor believes that the Catholic basketball league will be able to stand on its own two feet. “I think they’ll have a real good league. They have good teams and are in good markets.”
Obviously relaxed as he sat at the podium, Boehiem went on to zing a future ACC opponent while praising local restaurants such as Siena and Capriccio.
“Now I’ve got to go to Clemson, South Carolina. I’m sure they’ve got a Denny’s down there,” said Boehiem with a smile. “I’ll miss the Big East and places like (Providence). Time goes on.”