PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has been around for so long that some fans think of him as an old curmudgeon, incapable of having fun with the serious business of big-time college basketball.
But despite coaching 1,210 games without a break in the last 37 years, Boeheim’s sense of humor was completely intact Wednesday night when he was asked whether he recruited Hamilton’s Michael Carter-Williams as a shooting guard or a point guard coming out high school two years ago.
“I never thought of him as a 2 (shooting guard),” Boeheim said of Carter-Williams, who is averaging 12.0 points and leads the nation in assists (9.6 per game) as a sophomore for seventh ranked Syracuse (15-1). “He didn’t shoot it well enough to be a 2.
“Most of his game is making plays,” added Boeheim. “I don’t know who pegged him as a 2. You didn’t peg him as a 2, did you? You’re better than that. It was probably some 5-foot-4 fat guy (that labeled him).”
The short fat guy was a figment of Boeheim’s still fertile imagination, and after Wednesday’s dazzling performance, Providence College undoubtedly wishes Carter-Williams was just a phantom, too.
Instead, the Friars were left with a 72-66 homecourt loss in front of a full house as the 6-foot-6 point guard with the extraordinary wingspan and terrific basketball acumen burned them by finishing with 17 points (one short of his career high), six assists, six rebounds and five steals in 38 minutes. In baseball parlance, that would be called a complete game.
Perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment by Carter-Williams is that he had just one turnover, and it came in the final 40 seconds when he was just trying to protect Syracuse’s six-point lead.
“Yeah, and he didn’t have to make the play that he did (which resulted in the lone turnover),” said Boeheim, a notoriously hard marker on his players. “We didn’t need that play at the time. He didn’t have to go long (with a pass) right there.”