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Boeheim gets to 1,000, one game at a time

Jim Boeheim has had to stew six days since Sunday's ugly loss at St. John's, so he isn't taking much time to ponder the history he will be making tonight at 7 when Syracuse plays at Louisville (ESPN).

It will be the Hall of Famer's 1,000th game as Syracuse coach, making him the fifth active Division I boss to reach that milestone -- but the only one to do it at one school.

"I remember all the bad games," Boeheim deadpanned on this week's Big East teleconference. "I know people don't believe this but in coaching, I only care about the next game. I don't think about the last game or the next one, just this one. Someday, maybe even in the summer, you'll think, 'That's a lot of games,' but I try not to."

Boeheim's record is 741-258 since taking the reins in 1976 and he is the winningest coach in Big East history at 326-177. Syracuse is 15-5 this season and tied for second in the conference with Louisville at 4-2.

"Getting ready to win the next game is how we want our players to focus and what I want to focus on," Boeheim said. "That's why I've been able to get to 1,000. Consistency and longevity have always been a goal and the best way to be around is to be consistent."

Boeheim is tied with John Chaney for 14th on the all-time victory list and is fifth on the active list, five behind Connecticut's Jim Calhoun. He's headed for his 29th 20-win season, one behind the record of 30 set by North Carolina's Dean Smith.

"It's to the point where I don't even know if younger coaches can put that into perspective," said Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon. "It's not done. It's so unheard of and yet so amazing. His consistency and record over the years is just unparalleled."

Providence coach Tim Welsh, a former Boeheim assistant, said he was on the phone with his former boss a couple of weeks ago (after each had lost their previous game) when the topic of No. 1,000 came up.

"We were both complaining to each other about our teams," Welsh joked. "I said, 'I don't know how the hell you've done this so long.' He said, 'I don't know either.' But he's just got a great temperament and adjusts well to today's players. I was on the bench with him for his 400th win and against him for his 700th and it all seems like yesterday."

Boeheim is 62 and it's assumed that assistant and former player Mike Hopkins will someday take over the reins from him. But it doesn't seem like Boeheim is close to retirement.

His teams are still national contenders and next year's recruiting class, including Niagara Falls' Jonathan Flynn, is one of his best ever. And the oldest of his three children with his second wife, Juli, is just 8.

It's easy to see him coaching into his early 70s. But even if he coach into the next decade, Boeheim doesn't expect to see anyone last so long at one place again.

"I think it's very unlikely it will ever happen," he said. "Young coaches get a start someplace at a lower level and then they move once or twice. Then they're in the business at that place for 10 or 20 years and it's time to retire."

Said Welsh: "He's persevered because he's a good guy and a tremendous innovator in the game. A lot of coaches from his era aren't around anymore because they don't want to put up with all that goes on. He just gets all the respect in the world from everybody in this business."

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Around the rim

*Good luck to the NCAA selection committee when it comes time to figure out the Missouri Valley Conference. Five teams are in the top 50 of the RPIs but all of them have at least three league losses. Missouri State, the only team this season to beat Wisconsin, has dropped four out of five. Sunday's 63-56 loss at Evansville came 12 days after Missouri State won the teams' first meeting, 106-54.

*Gotta love Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl. We know he doesn't take himself too seriously with those hideous orange suit jackets on the sideline but he went one step further for Monday's Tennessee-Duke women's game. Just prior to tipoff, a topless Pearl joined the Vols' student section -- complete with headband and painted orange chest with a 'V' for Volunteers.

*Niagara, Canisius and the University at Buffalo will find out their opponents for the Feb. 17 BracketBusters game Monday. None of the three will land in the 12 televised games on the ESPN networks. Niagara and UB will be home, Canisius will be on the road.

*St. Bonaventure rues its home loss to Richmond earlier this month and would love to get revenge when the teams meet again tonight in Virginia. Richmond, and not Bona, is probably the A-10's worst team.

The Spiders fell to 5-14 with Wednesday's 23-point loss at La Salle, which had just been blown out Sunday in Olean. Last Saturday at Dayton, Richmond was held to just eight first-half points in a 72-54 loss.

The Spiders trailed after 17 minutes, 30-2, as Dayton scored 22 straight points. For the half, Richmond hit just 3 for 26 shots.

Said Dayton guard Brian Roberts: "I've never been in a game where we were up, 30-2. Maybe in football with a safety."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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