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By BRENDAN McGAIR
PROVIDENCE â€“ Judging by the lengthy soliloquy he delivered following his teamâ€™s 72-66 win against the Providence Friars Wednesday night, this city will always hold a special place in Jim Boehiemâ€™s heart.
The veteran Syracuse took a simple question â€“ â€śAny last thoughts about playing the Friars at the Dunkinâ€™ Donuts Center?â€ť â€“ and ran with it, sounding off for several minutes about his programâ€™s last go-around in the Big East along with the fine Italian restaurants that he always enjoys when bringing his Orange players to town.
â€śDave Gavitt started (the Big East) and the league has had an unbelievable 34-year run that nobody thought would happen. He took nothing and made it into the best league in the country,â€ť said Boeheim after his Orange bested the Friars for the 23rd time in 29 tries on Providenceâ€™s home floor. â€śMy whole basketball life has really been in the Big East, so itâ€™s a sad time when I come into a town â€¦ weâ€™ve been coming to (Providence) for 34 years, so thatâ€™s a lot of history.â€ť
Boeheim then addressed the constant expansion that has turned college sports into a freefall of epic proportions â€“ something that has not escaped Syracuse, who will call the ACC home beginning next season.
â€śFootball and basketball schools have to be together,â€ť said Boeheim. â€śItâ€™s always been about football and itâ€™s always going to be about football.â€ť
The veteran mentor believes that the Catholic basketball league will be able to stand on its own two feet. â€śI think theyâ€™ll have a real good league. They have good teams and are in good markets.â€ť
Obviously relaxed as he sat at the podium, Boehiem went on to zing a future ACC opponent while praising local restaurants such as Siena and Capriccio.
â€śNow Iâ€™ve got to go to Clemson, South Carolina. Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ve got a Dennyâ€™s down there,â€ť said Boehiem with a smile. â€śIâ€™ll miss the Big East and places like (Providence). Time goes on.â€ť