Nobody made – and continues to make – a bigger fuss about playing the ACC tournament in New York than Jim Boeheim, who improbably managed to follow another early exit with another unprovoked rant about Greensboro even as Syracuse continued to prove it can lose its ACC opener anywhere.
After Wednesday’s loss to Miami, Syracuse is still looking for its first tournament win, having lost its opener in Greensboro and Washington and, now, Brooklyn, which leaves the ACC facing the mildly uncertain prospect of a tournament with its presumed anchor tenant going one-and-done.
Enter Duke, which had to fight to the end to win its opener over Clemson on Wednesday. The Blue Devils are New York’s college team now, as Syracuse once called itself. With its national following and New York alumni base, this has always been like a second home for Duke, which has played neutral-site games in New York and New Jersey on a near-annual basis. Now that the Orange is headed back upstate posthaste, the Blue Devils may now be the top draw in their home away from home.
Still, Boeheim couldn’t exit stage left without slandering Greensboro, something he does as habitually as Luke Kennard fiddles with his hair. Asked about playing the tournament in New York, Boeheim managed to twist his support for playing in big cities – a perfectly valid perspective – into more invalid, unprovoked criticism of the tournament’s spiritual home. It’s just a reflex for Boeheim now.
“There’s no value in playing Greensboro, none,” Boeheim said. “It’s there because the league’s been there and the office is there, and they have 150 people that the ACC needs. That’s why it’s there. It should not be there. … And I’m saying all that because I don’t give a (expletive). I’m just saying what’s right. That’s what’s right.”
He’s wrong about that, but that’s Boeheim. Not only does he not appreciate the history of the conference he’s in or why it matters, he doesn’t care if anyone thinks he should. He’ll continue to push for Atlanta or Washington or New York – ahem, Brooklyn, as the Big East people are quick to note – for as long as he’s around, but maybe Boeheim ought to stick around the ACC tournament for longer than a day before he complains again about where it’s played.
Greensboro had this to say to Boeheim on Twitter: “We kindly disagree. But I guess you can lose in the first round anywhere. At least it’s a quick ride home.”
Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski are close friends, but they differ on the benefits of playing in Greensboro. Krzyzewski, unlike Boeheim, understands as well as anyone the true value of playing in the city while also appreciating both the potential and pragmatism of this two-year visit to New York.
“Obviously, there’s been great value having it in Greensboro because this is the tournament that everyone copied and if we didn’t have the support of an entire city to support us and keep adding to their beautiful coliseum, this tournament and this league would not be where it’s at,” Krzyzewski said. “So if the powers that be want it to eventually go back or stay in Greensboro or visit or whatever, so be it. I think they deserve that.
“I think coming to New York is a huge thing just because we’ve added – we have 15 teams. So a number of those teams played their tournament in New York, so their fan bases were accustomed to that. So the ACC schools and then the Big East schools that went, their fan bases were accustomed to two different things. So to try to find out what the new thing will be, that’s what these guys are supposed to do. But having it here is great.”
Still, the flameout that provoked Boeheim’s flame-throwing was good news for North Carolina (the team, not the state), which should be motivated to play Miami – the Hurricanes dealt the Tar Heels their worst loss of the season in January – and avoids what would certainly have been a distinct home-court disadvantage against Syracuse.
Syracuse is gone, again. Duke is still around, now the new de facto home team.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock