After the Orange took care of business the other night against the Huskies, the impossible happened: Jim Boeheim cracked a smile. It is difficult to say for certain that it was, in fact, a smile, since few have witnessed such an event and lived to talk about it. Like the cicadas of North America, Boeheim’s smile emerges once every fifteen years, or so. Naturally, when it does occur, people are taken aback.
“I was so scared, man, I didn’t know what to do,” said Wes Johnson, looking around to make sure Boeheim was not around. “I mean”¦I thought he was gonna kill somebody, you know? But he just stood there and”¦smiled”¦” Johnson shuddered, “It gave me the creeps.”
Andy Rautins found Boeheim’s smile to be equally disconcerting. “I’ve never seen Coach smile. My dad has never seen Coach smile. I don’t think Mrs. Boeheim has seen him smile. As soon as I saw it, I just ran,” claims Rautins. “I ran so fast.”
The only person not taken aback by the phenomenon was the man himself. “I did not, have not, and will not smile. Ever. I don’t know what anyone is talking about,” averred Boeheim, taking his usual stance at the podium with his chin resting on his hand, looking as if he would rather be asleep. “In case you’ve all forgotten, we lost a game this year. Lost. It’s”¦it’s disgusting. We’re just not executing.”
Boeheim has a point. He maintains that, despite having the best record in school history thus far and contending for an overall one seed in the NCAA tournament, “we have not played to our potential. We need to score more, and stop letting teams score on us.” He added, “Know what would really make me happy? If we could just completely stop opponents, hold them to zero points. Until we do, we’re just screwing around out there.”
Though it seems an impossible feat, Boeheim’s smile serves as a strange motivator for some. “He said that?” asked Kris Joseph of Boeheim’s statement. “Hell, if Coach says he’ll smile again I’ll do whatever he wants. That was the most laid back I’ve ever seen him. You know how, when he’s angry, he flips his coat behind his back and puts his hands on his hips and just sort of stares? He did that to me at practice once for five hours straight. If holding an opponent scoreless will make him smile, then I’m gonna make it happen.”
Rautins says that Joseph may be alone in his sentiments. “I don’t ever want to see that again,” said the senior guard. “I’m going to have nightmares for weeks. It’s like there’s a Cheshire Cat just swimming around in my head.” Rautins then ran to the bathroom and vomited.
Perhaps Boeheim rarely smiles because he fears the effect it could have on his players. Perhaps he truly wants his team to go undefeated and hold opponents to zero points per game. Or perhaps, he’s simply as joyless as he seems. Either way, one thing is certain: the guy knows how to win basketball games.
Just don’t expect him to be happy while he does it.