Jim Boeheim's Blowup Adds to Growing Legend of Duke-Syracuse Rivalry

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterFebruary 23, 2014

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DURHAM, N.C. — In his first 37 years of coaching, Jim Boeheim might have saved his tantrum for another day.

But not this year. Not the year that the Duke-Syracuse rivalry was born. Not in the year when the rules (and the conferences) changed.

The call was an easy one in Boeheim's view. Syracuse's C.J. Fair drove baseline. Duke's Rodney Hood slid in to take the charge, his feet still moving as Fair started his upward movement.

Feb 22, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Syracuse Orange forward C.J. Fair (5) gets called for a charge as Duke Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood (5) defends near the end of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

That's a block at Syracuse. That's a block in November. That's a block in February. And yes, that's even a block at Cameron.

"That's the new rule," Boeheim screamed to official Tony Greene four times, which followed a near-jacket toss, a jump stop and some other not-so-printable words.

"That was the game," Boeheim said after. "That was the game-decider right there."

Boeheim was talking about the call, but he could have said the same for his two technicals and his first-ever ejection in a game that counted in his 38 seasons as head coach.

That was the game right there. 

Duke 66, Syracuse 60.

"People will remember this one for 30 years," Boeheim said, "because the old coach went out there and got a little excited."

Boeheim's tantrum took away the opportunity for his players to make a play that would have made us remember this game for another 30 years.

You could say that's a shame, but that's the wrong word. Because Boeheim's passion and how much he cared about a game in late February is no shame.

Both rounds of Duke and Syracuse were so good that they didn't need any controversy to spice them up. They both had it—Hood possibly getting fouled on his dunk in overtime at Syracuse and now the block-charge and the tirade that will go in Boeheim's biography—but what took place on the floor and the energy in both venues were worthy of putting the classic stamp on both games. 

"Their celebration of basketball up there and our celebration of basketball here was phenomenal," Mike Krzyzewski said. "It's what makes our sport so good. I love the NBA to death, but this is something that they can't do. 

"... That's our product. That's our product. Genuineness. Purity."

The scene inside Cameron was something that the regulars on press row said rivaled North Carolina-Duke. The desire rivaled an NCAA tournament game.  

Both of these Top Five teams entered Saturday doing a little soul-searching. Top-ranked Syracuse was coming off its first loss, and an embarrassing one at that, against Boston College at home. 

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils got man-handled down the stretch two days prior at North Carolina.
Coach K said that night that his team didn't have "it." They were boys. They lost to men.

The Blue Devils have won pretty all year. They knew that wouldn't be the case against the Orange and Boeheim's patented zone.

Surprisingly, the first round was all about offense. Duke nearly escaped the Carrier Dome with a win on the back of 15 three-pointers.

Boeheim made an adjustment this time around to prevent all those three-point looks. He told his guards not to collapse when Duke got the ball into the middle of the zone.

Krzyzewski countered by putting Hood into the middle of the zone to attack. Hood is a natural at that spot with his feathery mid-range jumper and the ability to finish over length. He scored two baskets and had an assist during a game-changing stretch when Duke scored on six of seven possessions in the second half to take a 51-45 lead.

"It was a good thing for us, and Coach made a great adjustment on that," said Hood, who scored 13 points. "I just tried to be really aggressive in there."

Feb 22, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski talks to forward Jabari Parker (1) on the sidelines against the Syracuse Orange at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Hood and Jabari Parker essentially disappeared on Thursday night when the game got tight at North Carolina, but they embraced the pressure down the stretch against Syracuse.

After turning the ball over four times in the first 14 minutes, Parker had only one turnover the rest of the game and scored 11 of his game-high 19 points after halftime.

"I thought he started out young in the game and got old real quick in the last 25 minutes," Krzyzewski said. "He was a real man the last 25 minutes."

The Orange had what could be deemed as their own manly moment. Boeheim's guys trailed by six late, and as they've done most of this season, they made the plays late to put themselves in a spot to win.

"We knew the end of the year would be hard, and that's fine," Boeheim said. "These games help you. This will help you. This is a tournament game. This will help you."

In a glass half-empty world, Syracuse has now lost two straight and Boeheim has lost his mind.

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 22:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils salues the fans as he leaves the floor after a win over the Syracuse Orange at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 66-60.  (Photo by
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

But if Fair's bucket had been good and he would have been rewarded a free throw, the story could have been Syracuse's unbelievable courage and resolve in its first trip to Cameron.

Instead, the story is a call.

And that's the only shame from the first year of this new series that we can go ahead and define as an "instant rivalry."

The good news is that I bet you can't name the opponent when Bobby Knight threw his chair. We'll never forget who Boeheim was playing when he went bananas. 

We'll never forget Duke-Syracuse, Year One. 

"We have a goldmine for college basketball," Krzyzewski said. "This conference has struck gold."


C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.