The last time anyone other than Jim Boeheim was the head coach of Syracuse basketball was more than 40 years ago, but this winter the Orange got a taste of what life without Boeheim would be like.
Boeheim was suspended nine games as part of NCAA violations levied against the school, and when assistant coach Mike Hopkins took over the results weren’t pretty. Hopkins went just 4-5 overall in Boeheim’s chair, with an 0-3 mark in ACC play and losses to old-school Big East rivals St. John’s and Georgetown.
After his debut, many Syracuse fans weren’t happy with the long-term direction of the program, especially since Hopkins is set to take over for Boeheim following the 2017-18 season.
But there is one man who has faith in Hopkins long-term. That man?
It’s Jim Boeheim himself.
Boeheim was asked about Hopkins’ brief tenure during a media session prior to Syracuse’s NCAA tournament opener against Dayton (via USA Today):
On one hand, Syracuse fans have every right to be disappointed with Hopkins’ brief stint as coach. Not only was the 4-5 record less than stellar, those losses came against less-than-stellar competition. After all, it’s one thing to lose to St. John’s and Georgetown, but it’s quite another to lose to St. John’s and Georgetown this year. The Red Storm won just eight games overall (and one in Big East play), while Georgetown wasn’t much better, finishing 15-18.
Mike Hopkins will replace Jim Boeheim at Syracuse.
Then again, in defense of Hopkins, who are we to question Boeheim? He is a Hall of Famer, after all.
The good news, of course, is that whether Hopkins proves to be the next Boeheim or just another forgettable coach in a sport filled with them, the Orange still have two full years with Boeheim before they have to find out.