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The Road to 800


Jim, you'll always be a champion in our book. Juli too.

Jim Boeheim’s next victory will be #800 in his career. Truly a milestone few ever see. Even more special is the fact that he will have done it all at the same school. And to even one-up that, he will have done it at his alma mater. All very impressive. So, big props to Jim Boeheim.

When I began as a freshman at Syracuse in the Fall of 2000, Boeheim hadn’t hit 600 wins yet. In fact, it wasn’t until the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio against Hawaii that he reached that plateau. I was in the Sour Sitrus Society – SU’s Basketball Pep Band – and was scheduled to be in the travel band for the Big East Tournament in New York City. Sadly, the team didn’t earn the first round bye, and the band had to leave early on Wednesday of that week to drive down to the City. That did not bode well for me, as I had a midterm scheduled for that day. It was an ETS class, something to do with drama, because half the class was watching videos of famous dramatic works. The prof was a dick, because despite my offers to take the midterm early (and with an official excuse letter from the Band Department) he demanded I take the midterm at the regularly scheduled time with the rest of the class. So I missed out on the trip to NYC. If I recall, one of the BET games that year featured Syracuse having the wrong uniform combination because they weren’t sure whether they’d be the home team or the visitor. At any rate, Syracuse bowed out early but secured an at-large bid to the NCAAs, matched up in Dayton against Hawaii. I was not originally scheduled to travel with Sitrus, but a last-minute cancellation, coupled with the powers that be having sympathy for my midterm situation, allowed me to travel to Dayton. Not one of the more glamorous places to be, but a free trip is a free trip. I remember going to a place for lunch there called Cheeseburgers & Cold Beer. Surprisingly enough, they served both. Sadly though, I was a mere 19 years old with no fake ID, and had to settle with merely a cheeseburger. Maybe a Coke too. The game itself I don’t really remember, except that the Hawaii pep band was wearing Hawaiian shirts (go figure) and played Hawaii Five-O so many times I’m pretty sure it was their fight song. Near the end of the game, when it was pretty evident that Syracuse had secured a victory, an Orange Pack member started passing out placards with 600 on it. To all Syracuse fans, including the band. I had to ask what it was for, because I was naive and I guess I just had no idea that Boeheim was about to hit a milestone. I still have that 600 poster somewhere, packed away. It’ll go in my man cave when I get a house. Syracuse went on to lose to Kansas in the second round that year (which made beating them in 2003 that much better) so win #601 would have to wait.

Win #700 came four years later – late February 2005 – in the last home game of the season against Providence. The Orange beat the Friars that day 91-66, on the day the Dome said goodbye to Hakim Warrick, Josh Pace, and Craig Forth. And again, there were tons of placards in the stands, this time reading “700.” I remember being in Sitrus that day, feeling glad that he was able to get that win at home so he could celebrate it with 32,804 of his closest friends. Unfortunately, Dr. Gross and Chancellor Cantor had to be part of it. Still, clearly another great milestone for a great man who has only known Syracuse in his coaching career.

And here we are, another four years down the road, on the cusp of history yet again. But this is not Boeheim’s first attempt at #800. No, we must rewind our memories back to this past March, when our Orangemen made a fateful trip to Memphis for the Sweet 16 matchup against Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners. I actually almost went to this game, for many reasons, one of which was to be there for #800. But in the end, I couldn’t justify the time off from work, the cost of the transportation/hotel/game(s). So I guess it was fate that Oklahoma housed our boys. Jim Boeheim wasn’t going to win another game (that actually counts) unless I was in attendance.

So this means he’s got two chances this week. I’d prefer if he could beat Albany, so we can start the season off right. The team really has to get over the “oops” game against Le Moyne from last week. Thank God it didn’t count, because it serves as a great wake up call for these kids. Hmm let’s see, is there anyting else cliché I could say at this point about that exhibition? No? OK, I’ll move on.

IF, and that’s a big IF… IF Albany is victorious, there’s also a Veteran’s Day matchup at the Dome against Robert Morris. I would think that between those two games, at least one of them should clinch Jimmy his 800th win. Realistically, they should be 800 and 801, respectively. Either way, I’ll be there in my 309 “luxury suites” looking for the “800” placards.

And at the current pace, 900 could come late in the 2012-2013 season. Will Jim Boeheim still be the Syracuse coach? Will Syracuse stay at the current pace of winning games? Stay tuned. But one thing’s for sure: I’ll have to be there if and when it happens.
Image Credit: espn.com

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