Blum: Jim Boeheim’s harsh criticism of players pays off in the NCAA Tournament

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ CHICAGO — When Syracuse got back to the locker room on Sunday night, down 14 points to top-seeded Virginia, Malachi Richardson knew the brunt of his coach’s anger would be thrust in his direction.A two-point first half. The first player subbed out because he had passed up a shot. A careless turnover because he was found standing on the end-line. From his coach’s perspective, he was mentally out of the game. And with 20 minutes to go in the Orange’s last shot to make a Final Four, all that mattered is what his coach thought.“‘Man, I’m getting yelled at again,’” Richardson said he remembered thinking. “‘I just can’t stop getting yelled at.’”“But it worked.”Boeheim’s halftime barking led to 21-second half points, and in turn, an improbable Syracuse win. “I typically don’t start coaching him until when it’s late — late second half,” the head coach said, unafraid to give himself the credit he deserves. Because while Boeheim is a 40-year head coach that often gets chastised — and rightfully so — for being salty and overly and publicly critical of his players, this NCAA Tournament run shows genius behind his coaching style.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLook up and down Syracuse’s roster. Michael Gbinije is a starting point for the first time this year. Tyler Lydon is playing center, and he’s on the wing. Dajuan Coleman is coming off of two years of injuries. Three of the best players are up-and-coming freshmen. So little of the on-court product is proven, yet this team has come together in a way that would suggest otherwise.The No. 10 seed Orange (23-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) will be playing for a right to compete in the national championship when it takes on No. 1 seed North Carolina (32-6, 14-4) at 8:49 p.m. on Saturday in Houston, and it’s thanks to the head coach that isn’t afraid to be honest that got it there.“It just shows how persistent he is,” Gbinije said. “How he’s able to adjust to situations. He’s just a great coach.”MORE COVERAGE3 things Roy Williams said at his pre-Final Four press conference3 things Jim Boeheim said at his pre-Final Four press conferenceSyracuse basketball stat breakdown: Comparing the 2003 national champions to this year’s teamSyracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about North Carolina2016 NCAA Tournament: Beat writers predict Syracuse basketball’s Final Four matchup with North CarolinaRevisit Syracuse’s Final Four runs under Jim Boeheim Related Stories Syracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about North Carolina2016 NCAA Tournament: Beat writers predict Syracuse basketball’s Final Four matchup with North CarolinaDougherty: If nothing else, the Syracuse players deserve thisNorth Carolina point guard Marcus Paige poses similar threat to Virginia’s London Perrantes Published on April 1, 2016 at 2:17 am So at Christmas’ expense for one last time, let’s agree on this: You canOf course, Gbinije is the player that Boeheim didn’t think he wanted until assistant coach Adrian Autry convinced him to take a chance. His transition to point guard was laced with shouting, including on his first play in practice when he decided to shoot the ball. But now, here’s Gbinije, a polished point guard, a leader on a team that will go down in Syracuse history.Then there’s Tyler Roberson — the guy that Boeheim let the world know wouldn’t have played a minute of Syracuse’s loss to Pittsburgh in February had he been able to sub in anyone else. He dribbled sideways, Boeheim said. Didn’t look for his shot. Didn’t play 100 percent. But now, Roberson has kept the Orange in games with his second-chance putbacks. When the offense is sinking, he keeps it afloat.Time after time, Boeheim has criticized Frank Howard. After Syracuse’s first conference win in January he said Howard played because he “was trying to get him to do something. It didn’t work.” Two weeks later, “If he stops taking 10-foot floaters, he’ll stay in the game.” On Feb. 14, it was about his defensive mistakes. On Feb. 21, it was about him shooting when he’s only 20 percent from the field. But now Howard plays big minutes. He’s become the team’s best passer, and has found a knack of getting to the basket off the dribble when the defense gives it to him.“I tell players, I’m going to push them,” Boeheim said. “They’re going to get pushed, and if they’re not responding, I’m going to push them harder. I think it’s a positive.“I always tell these guys, ‘If I wasn’t upset, you wouldn’t be playing. And If I’m not talking to you, it’s because you’re not playing.’”On Sunday, he inspired a second-half comeback that will never be forgotten. The players credit it to his halftime words, both to the team as a whole and directly to Richardson. Boeheim might have a demeanor that lacks compassion. One that leads to him subbing players out at the first hint of a mistake. One that might have him screaming at a player as he walks back to the bench, in full view of every television camera to document.But he’s said it all season, and most prominently when his future predecessor Mike Hopkins took over during his suspension. This is his team. They respond to the way he coaches. And on Sunday, when everything seemed over and done with, that fact was proven in a very tangible way.“He’s an amazing coach and an amazing guy,” Trevor Cooney said. “He built this. This is him.” Commentslast_img