Syracuse shooting guard Buddy Boeheim has answered all critics
with his play, especially as of late in the season. He has added
dimensions to his game every year and has shown exceptional growth
in his overall game.
His freshman year, he was primarily a spot-up shooter. You
didn’t really want him to put it on the ground too much, and
although he was streaky, it was very evident that he would grow
into a lethal shooter with time.
His sophomore year, he added a one-dribble pull-up to his game
that wasn’t there the previous year. He also improved his defense,
which was often a criticism of him his freshman year.
Then came his junior year, and Syracuse fans had the privilege
of seeing Buddy grow into his own. He dominated games and looked
unstoppable at times -- adding a new dimension of driving to the
hole, getting and-one’s, putting the team on his back at times and
playing with confidence. No matter if he was struggling with his
three-point shot at the beginning of the season when he was
shooting as low as 27%, to when he was shooting 46% over an 11-game
stretch. His confidence never visibly dwindled, and his patented
smile made it hard not to be happy for him.
If there were fans in the Carrier Dome, they would have for sure
been chanting "B-U-D-D-Y! B-U-D-D-Y!" as he caught fire multiple
times. Breaking his previous career highs as his teammates
continued looking to him as he had the obvious hot hand.
Buddy put on a show in the ACC Tournament and was nothing short
of spectacular. His sharpshooting led Syracuse to a blowout romping
of NC State and a near-upset of top-seeded Virginia, who barely
escaped the loss. It took a slow five-second count while the
Cavaliers looked to inbound the ball (yes it should’ve been five
seconds, you can roll the tape) and a buzzer-beater to avoid the
But Buddy’s play was magnificent. He averaged a shade under 30
points per game in two ACC Tournament games while shooting 60.6%
from the floor overall and 55% from three-point range. This earned
him All-ACC Tournament First Team honors. For the season, Buddy led
Syracuse in scoring at over 17 points per game.
But this wasn’t an easy road for him. Playing for your dad can
be a very difficult task, and accusations of preferential treatment
have whirled around since he stepped foot on the Syracuse campus,
so we discussed it in depth as Buddy opened up about how he has
dealt with it all in this exclusive Q&A with Buddy
Etan: Is there extra pressure playing for your
Buddy: I’d say, at first, there was definitely
pressure being the coach's son. As a freshman, I wasn’t ranked and
didn’t get noticed until the end of my junior year in high school.
Coming in, I felt like I had a lot to prove -- and on top of it, I
was the coach's son. For that reason, I knew if I had a bad game or
wasn’t playing well people would say I was only playing because of
my dad. Over time, I’ve gotten more and more used to it and I feel
like I’ve proven that I belong here.
Do you feel people criticize you more because your dad
is the coach?
Buddy: I would say at times people criticize me
more than usual because I am the coach's son. As a Hall-of-Fame
coach, my dad is very well known, so I think a lot is expected of
me right away. However, I’m hard on myself as it is, so after a bad
game or stretch of games, I know that I have to be better and work
harder in order to get through a slump.
Do you feel you have more to prove than other players
because your dad is the coach?
Buddy: As the coach's son, there are times
where I feel like I need to prove more because I know there are
different expectations for me. For the first part of my freshman
and sophomore years, everyone was saying I only played because of
my dad, even if I had a pretty good game. At some point, I just
realized that there will always be people saying that regardless of
what happens, and I’m going to have my struggles since the ACC is
one of the toughest conferences in all of college basketball. Also,
my coaches and teammates have really helped me and always remind me
that they believe in me and that I belong here. That has helped me
persevere through a lot of doubts and questioning whether or not I
should be playing here.
Is your dad harder on you than other
Buddy: One of the most important things for me,
when I chose to play for my dad, was to be treated like every other
player. When I make a mistake, I want him to yell at me because he
would do the same to any other player that messes up. He’s done a
real good job with that, and I would say it’s the best playing for
him because he knows me so well as a player. He knows what
motivates me and pushes me to get better and keep playing, even if
I’m not making shots or losing confidence. I’d say he isn’t as hard
on me anymore because I know what he’s looking for, and that’s just
to play as hard as I can and to not make the same mistake over and
over again. It has been a great experience playing for him, and
I’ve learned so much from him and all the wisdom he possesses.
Buddy Boeheim has not only proven that he belongs on the
Syracuse men's basketball team, but he’s also shown the entire
basketball country that he can be a special player in one of the
most competitive conferences in the NCAA.
Syracuse enters the NCAA tournament as an 11-seed to face the
sixth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs at 9:40 p.m. in the Midwest
Region on Friday in Indianapolis.