When I started this Hoop Journal over three years ago I never imagined my post game comments would be played on ESPN’s Sportscenter or written about by Sports Illustrated, but it happened March 9th and 10th at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. In a Syracuse blowout of Florida State, Buddy Boeheim of Syracuse punched Wyatt Wilkes of Florida State and the refs missed it. As Wilkes remained bent over holding the right side of his midsection near the baseline, the Florida State coaches were telling the refs Buddy Boeheim punched him. The conductor of Florida State’s band came over and showed me the replay of the punch on ESPN. The replay of the punch was already on Twitter. In the post game press conference Buddy Boeheim’s father, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, denied it happened. Calling it “inadvertent” to a reporter who was asking him if Buddy should be suspended for the punch. I raised my hand after the coach/father made excuses for his son and commented, “I’m watching it right here (iPhone in hand). It wasn’t inadvertent. He punched him.” He answered “well good you say it. Can we agree to disagree?” I replied, “I don’t agree with anything you say.” He answered “Nobody in this room ever does.” Later that night ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt replayed my comments on Sportscenter. The next day Jimmy Traina wrote about it for https://www.si.com/ in his, “Traina Thoughts.” He titled it, “Jim Boeheim Gets Testy When Reporter Doesn’t Take His Nonsense.” Traina pointed out that it was a punch and Jim Boeheim was denying the truth. Traina finished his piece with, “Props to that Reporter for not letting Boeheim get away with his nonsense and making Boeheim further embarrass himself” After I read “However, one reporter wasn’t having it. Coming in hot at the 40-second mark of this video, the reporter, who I unfortunately could not identify despite trying hard to find out who he was this morning” I tracked him down on Twitter and on March 12 Traina updated his column with “The reporter doing a great job here is Paul Snyder from The Montauk Sun.” It was nice getting recognized for standing up for the truth. The punch got Buddy Boeheim suspended for the next game against Duke. Buddy’s punch helped end Syracuse’s season as they lost to Duke 88-79 the next day without him. The loss ended Jim Boeheim’s 45 year streak of winning seasons. Syracuse ended with a losing record 16-17 for the first time in his 46 years. I’ll always wonder why Buddy did it? His punch came with a very high price. Overall the ACC Tournament was incredible. Virginia Tech won it with four wins in four days beating Duke 82-67 for the Championship on March 12th. It was fun to watch. They stole the show winning the ACC Tournament against Duke in Coach K’s final season.
Six days later on Friday March 18th, I was in Glens Falls, NY for the Final Four of NY Public High School Athletic Association’s Boy’s Basketball Championship. The Long Island Champion Baldwin High School was playing Mt. Vernon High School in the Semifinals. It was a tough battle between teams with winning histories. Baldwin regularly wins Nassau County’s AA championship and Mt. Vernon came into the Final Four with 11 NYSPHSAA State Championships. Baldwin came into the semifinals with a 22-1 record and ranked No.6 in Class AA by the NY Sportswriters Association. Mt. Vernon came into the game 22-0 and ranked No.7 by the NY Sportswriters. Mt. Vernon started well winning the first quarter 22-16. Baldwin tied the game 32-32 at halftime by winning the second quarter 16-10. The 11 time NYSPHSAA State Champion Knights had a very rough third quarter scoring only 8 points and Baldwin took a 43-40 lead into the final 8 minutes. Mt. Vernon remained undefeated with a statement making fourth quarter out scoring Baldwin by ten points 24-14. The Knights won the semifinal battle 64-57.
On Saturday March 19th at 8:45pm the Knights played Green Tech from Albany for the AA Championship in Glens Falls’ Cool Insuring Arena. The Knights had beaten Green Tech by 18 points 73-55 on February 15th but championships have a way of bringing the best out of teams. After a slow first quarter Mt. Vernon led 13-10. Green Tech surged ahead at halftime 28-24 winning the second quarter 18-11. Mt. Vernon answered that winning the third quarter 18-10 to lead 42-38 after three. The Knights won their 12th State Championship with a 55-45 win after winning the final 8 minutes 13-7. Legendary Mt. Vernon Coach Bob Cimmino gave the Undefeated 24-0 State Champion Knights their finest compliment in the locker room after the game. He said, “I’ve never coached a more unselfish team. I really have not. I really have not.” Coaching Mt. Vernon for 27 seasons with a record 576 wins and only 113 losses, Coach Cimmino’s compliment came with extra meaning. Unselfishness got the Knights perfection in 2022.