Winning coaches typically smile after big wins, but Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim is not your typical coach. After the Orange defeated Gonzaga 63 to 60 the normally grumpy Boeheim even cracked a couple of jokes.
During Thursday's press conference Boeheim said he didn't really want to recruit Michael Gbinije out of high school or even after his freshman year, when he left Duke. On this happy Friday night, he called his 1,100 point scorer one of most under rated players in college basketball.
He praised freshman Tyler Lydon, whose victory preserving blocked shot (one of six he had in the game) prevented Gonzaga from taking the lead. Boheim said Lydon shouldn't really have been where he was in that situation, but the freshman forward made a great read and preserved the lead.
When asked about whether having first hand knowledge of Sunday's upcoming Elite Eight game opponent Virginia would help, he quipped, "It doesn't help us at all. I know them; that's the problem. They know us and we know them, and what I know about them, I don't like," joked Boeheim. "They've got a great team. I'm going to try not to think about that for another 10 or 15 minutes. They've got a great team. I think Tony Bennett is one of the best coaches I've ever seen. I've seen a lot of coaches."
Rather than berate his team, he light-heartedly shared that his team didn't believe him that Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer could shoot as well as he does. When asked about their last second defense, the veteran coach said he didn't have to remind them at the end of the game to watch Wiltjer.
When given the chance to gloat about the ACC dominance in the NCAA tournament, Boeheim was humble.
"I learned a long time ago that it's a foolish game to say one league is better than the other. There's just too many variables," he said. "I think the top conferences are very, very good, and it's an imperfect system to say, well, they did better in the NCAA Tournament. I mean, you can use that, but I don't know."
Taking a light hearted shot at his critics, Boeheim noted that after Syracuse wins, the media has a tendency to play down the significance of the victory.
"I thought Dayton was pretty darned good until we beat them, and then all of a sudden they weren't any good, and then I thought Middle Tennessee was pretty good until we beat them, and then they weren't any good," joked Boeheim. "So I guess now Gonzaga probably won't be any good tomorrow morning."
No doubt Boeheim will be surly again tomorrow, but for this one night, he was a lot of fun.