Jim Boeheim came to Syracuse as a walk-on guard from neighbouring Lyons, New York, who had aspired to play for his alma mater. He continued on as an assistant when his playing career ended. He was appointed head coach in 1976.
But, the reign of a skipper who guided his team to five Final Fours has come to an end.
On Wednesday, a day after losing to Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC tournament, Syracuse revealed that its head coach, who took over four years before Mike Krzyzewski arrived at Duke, would not be returning for the 2018-19 season.
The general belief was that Boeheim would never voluntarily quit the programme he has been associated with for over six decades. It never got to that point. According to reports, the school made the choice, and now Adrian “Red” Autry, who played under and assisted Boeheim, is the next head coach at Syracuse.
According to insiders, Autry has long been the administration pick to succeed Boeheim. The 1994 grad has been part of the Syracuse staff since 2011.
To return to relevance twenty years after its lone national championship run, Syracuse will have to acclimatise to a new environment that includes the transfer portal, name, image, and likeness (NIL) chances, and, most significantly, without Boeheim.
ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, and Myron Medcalf address the most pressing issues confronting Syracuse.
Without Boeheim, where does Syracuse go from here?
Syracuse seeks to replicate the success it had under Boeheim until almost a decade ago. The Orange’s Final Four appearances in 2013 (as a No. 4 seed) and 2016 (as a No. 10) were postseason triumphs that compensated a decade of regular-season failure. In each of the last nine seasons, the Orange’s ACC record has been at or near.500. There will be significantly less concerns about the program’s future under a new coach. This is a well-known basketball franchise with a devoted fan base and a sparkling lineup of former players, beginning with Carmelo Anthony. Syracuse will only get better from here. — Mr. Gasaway
How did Autry become Boeheim’s replacement?
Whenever Boeheim’s impending retirement was announced in the last 10 to 15 years, it was assumed that Syracuse would keep it in the family when selecting his successor. Mike Hopkins, who was the coach-in-waiting for a few years before departing to become the head coach at Washington in 2017, was widely anticipated to take the job. Autry, 51, and Gerry McNamara, 39, have emerged as the natural choices in recent years – both former Syracuse players and current Syracuse coaches. But, Autry has greater coaching experience and is ready to take over the programme. He is a seasoned recruiter, particularly in the Washington, D.C., region, and few individuals are more knowledgeable with Syracuse basketball. – Borzello
What hurdles will Autry confront as the new head coach in the coming days?
Considering that Autry played under Boeheim and has been on his staff since 2011, the continuity difficulties that most new employees experience may not be as severe for the Orange. Nonetheless, Autry will still have difficulties in assembling a competitive group for next season. Judah Mintz, the team’s second-leading scorer this season, is expected to go in the second round of the NBA draught in June. Under Boeheim, Benny Williams was in and out of favour, but he completed the season strong. Effectively, the whole roster is eligible to return for another season, therefore Autry must keep this bunch. The Orange have just one pledge for the 2023-24 season and one commit for the 2024 class. Autry will also need to start working on future rosters. — Borzello
What can Syracuse expect from Autry in the long run? What must he do to assure his success?
I travelled to Syracuse last summer to speak with Boeheim about his future. Some things stuck out. First and foremost, Boeheim was much more than a basketball coach. For better or worse, he was an emperor up there. Second, he had no desire to adjust to a new environment populated by NIL and the transfer portal. “We don’t pay players,” he said.
If Syracuse wants to return to perennial dominance, it has no option but to embrace this new age of college basketball. You will also have to behave like a politician, which will be the most hardest aspect of this job. There is a part of this fan group that still adores Boeheim, including a lot of the old money. Autry must be mindful of this as he establishes his own culture without alienating a bunch of fans that have supported Boeheim for five decades.
The expectations will be the same as they are for any coach: win, recruit, prosper in the NCAA tournament, and repeat the process the following year. That’s an unreasonable scrutiny for any head coach, even one who played and coached at the institution.
Can he please everyone? Even Boeheim couldn’t do it in the end. Autry will give it his all. He’ll gain support if he can get things back on track in the following several years. — Dr. Medcalf