Behind The Scenes

Bilas watches live Orange game with Boeheim in advance of coach’s return

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas traveled to Syracuse, N.Y. on Saturday, and visited with suspended Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, while he watched from afar the Orange’s 64-51 loss at Miami in the team’s second conference game of the season. Boeheim’s nine-game NCAA suspension ended after last night’s overtime loss to Clemson, leaving the Orange 4-5 without their skipper (10-6 overall, 0-3 in ACC).

The Orange – and Boeheim – are back in action this Saturday in a marquee home game against No. 7 North Carolina (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). ESPN’s Dan Shulman will pair with Bilas and reporter Allison Williams for the call of the game.

It was unusual but very compelling to sit with a current coach and watch his team play without him. – Jay Bilas

Portions of Bilas’ live game viewing with the Hall of Famer, produced by ESPN Feature Unit’s Michael O’Connor, will air on this week’s SportsCenter and during the UNC-Syracuse game.

Front Row spoke with Bilas on his experience with Boeheim.

How would you describe watching the game live with Boeheim?
I’ve known Coach Boeheim for over thirty years, and it was unusual but very compelling to sit with a current coach and watch his team play without him. Jim knows his team so well, but has been forced to watch his players like any fan, and it is no fun for him. He accepts the situation, though he clearly disagrees with it, and he was anxious to get to the end of the nine-game period. That’s clear.

Was Boeheim engaging with you during the game – almost like a film room segment – or more focused on the action?
It differed from moment to moment. At times, we talked about big picture things, and at other times, we talked about specific points about the game. Jim sees every detail with each individual player, and you could see the coach in him. He was analytical at times, frustrated and emotional at others. Overall, I think he’s disappointed that he couldn’t communicate at all with his team and staff, and he couldn’t help them the way he would have liked.

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