Rivalry still special

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Jim Boeheim turns 75 on Sunday and just began his 44th season as the head men’s basketball coach at Syracuse University.

Coaching at SU is Boeheim’s life and passion. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else directing the Orange on the sidelines.

Boeheim and his staff will have one of their biggest challenges in 2019-20, directing and then hopefully molding a youthful squad that features no seniors, one returning starter and five freshmen into a cohesive unit by mid-March.

Redshirt junior Elijah Hughes (13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game) is the lone returning starter and will be relied upon to carry the bulk of the scoring. There’s talent on the roster, but about three-quarters of it is unproven at the collegiate level.

Last season, all five starters returned, leading SU to a 20-14 overall record and an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.

But this is why Boeheim earns big bucks; he can coach. Just two and four years ago, the Orange made compelling runs deep into the NCAA tourney, culminating in Sweet 16 and Final Four appearances, respectively.

In the 2019-20 ACC preseason media poll, SU is picked to finish eighth in the regular season behind favorite Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, defending national champion Virginia, Florida State, North Carolina State and Notre Dame.

SU’s league season got off to a rocky start last week, losing to Virginia, 48-34, its lowest scoring output in the Carrier Dome’s 40-year history.

I think it’s going to be an up-and-down season for the Orange, finishing 10th in the 15-team league with a 9-11 mark. SU hosts Colgate on Wednesday at the Dome.

Since SU joined the ACC in 2013, here are the team’s annual conference prediction, actual standing, overall record and NCAA Tournament advancement where applicable:

n 2013-14 — 2nd/2nd/28-6/made NCAA third round as a 3rd seed;

n 2014-15 — 5th/8th/18-13/self-imposed and NCAA sanctions levied;

n 2015-16 — 9th/9th/23-14/made NCAA Final Four as a 10th seed;

n 2016-17 — 5th/7th (tie)/19-15;

n 2017-18 — 10th/10th (tie)/23-14/made NCAA Sweet 16 as an 11th seed;

n 2018-19 — 4th/6th (tie)/20-14/made NCAA first round as an 8th seed;

n 2019-20 — 8th/??/??

n Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in the NFL: 1. 49ers; 2. Patriots; 3. Seahawks; 4. Ravens; 5. Saints; 6. Packers; 7. Vikings; 8. Texans; 9. Bills; 10. (tie) Chiefs, Steelers.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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