Within the construct of the games, Boeheim is in complete control. Most college coaches call timeout, then huddle with their assistants to talk strategy before addressing the players. Boeheim leaves his assistants' brains unpicked.
"My job is to coach the game," he says. "To press if we're going to press, or change our zone, or trap in our zone, or which plays we're going to run, or who we're going to go to. That's my job. I've been doing this 36 years. Why would I want an assistant telling me what plays to run?"
Syracuse overflows with veteran talent, which means the relentless puzzle solver has as many pieces as he's ever had. The worrier in Boeheim sees a tough schedule ahead—Louisville usually gives Syracuse fits, UConn is a sleeping power, conference road games are always tough. And he wonders if the Orange's weakness on the boards will catch up with them at some point. (The team's defensive-rebounding average of 38.2 ranks 337th in the country according to kenpom.com.) The cynic in him says, Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to lose one or two more. Maybe that would push the Orange to improve.
"I really believe that we're not there," Boeheim says. "We have a big upside. We need these hard games. We may lose a game or two, but I think at the end we may come out a better team."
A program on the brink is putting together the ultimate program season. Some coaches would turn this into a book. Boeheim just wants to turn it into another national championship.