Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim earned his 900th career win Monday night with a 72-68 victory over Detroit, making him the third Division I men’s coach to reach the historic mark.
The 68-year-old Boehiem is in his 37th year at his alma mater and has compiled a record of 900-304. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) are the only other Division I men’s coaches to reach that prestigious mark.
But Boeheim believes 900 wins is an insignificant milestone.
“To me, it’s just a number,” said Boeheim. “If I get 900, have I got to get more? That’s why maybe it’s just not that important to me because to me it’s just a number, and the only number that matters is how this team does.”
The Orange is off to a good early season start and improved their record to 10-0 on the season, behind James Southerland’s 22 points. They also extended their home winning streak to 30 games, which is the longest in the nation.
After the victory Boeheim told the Carrier Dome crowd that the success of the program would not have been without the “greatest” player in Syracuse history, Dave Bing, who has allowed him to reach the milestone.
Bing, who now is the mayor of Detroit, was Boeheim’s college roommate, teammate and fellow Hall of Famer. Bing expressed his excitement for Boeheim’s victory after the game.
“Nobody would have thought when we came here 50 years ago either one of us would have had the kind of success we’ve had,” Bing said. “I’m so pleased and proud of him because he stuck with it. He’s proven that he’s one of the best coaches ever in college basketball, and he’ll be No. 2 shortly.”
Boeheim was presented with a jersey encased in glass with 900 printed on it after the close win.
“I’m happy. I’ve stay around long enough. I was a little nervous,” said Boeheim, who first victory was against Harvard in 1976. “I’m proud to be here. To win this game is more pressure than I’ve felt in a long time. I wasn’t thinking about losing until the end. That wouldn’t have been a good thing to happen, but it very well could have.”
In the last 6 minutes of the game Juwan Howard Jr. led the Titans on a 16-0 run. Howard, who finished with 18 points, 14 of which came during the run, hit two free throws to pull the Titans within 67-63 with 55.1 seconds left. Detroit was down as much as 20 points with 6:09 to play
“You know what, I didn’t hear it, but the players probably heard because they sure came alive,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said.
Michael Carter-Williams, who finished with 10 assists and 12 points, secured the game for the Orange by making three of four free throws in the final seconds.
“Michael made big-time free throws you’ve got to make. If he misses a couple, it’s a new game. That was the difference,” Boeheim said. “We have not been in that situation. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that.”
The Orange will have the rest of the week to learn from their mistakes as they prepare to play Temple Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The Orange faithful are expected to pack the Garden out and Boeheim recognizes the contributions the fan base has made to his career.
“The support of fans cannot be overestimated,” he said. “You have to have that kind of support in your building to bring recruits in, to help you play better. We’ve had a tremendous loyal fan base.”
Boeheim has the opportunity to pass Knight for second most all-time wins on Dec. 31 against Central Connecticut State University. They first need to get past Temple and Alcorn State.