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Jim Boeheim’s developing texting game helps him relate to his team


first_imgBefore now-freshman walk-on Brendan Paul arrived at Syracuse, he attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game. The jumbotron showed his future coach, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim sitting in the stands. Paul sent Boeheim a text. “Cavs don’t look too good,” Paul recalled texting Boeheim. “Need help,” Boeheim texted back.Paul was confused. He thought maybe Boeheim himself was asking for help. He texted Buddy Boeheim, Jim’s son and Paul’s current roommate, to see what the coach meant. “Buddy told me his dad meant to say that the Cavs need help,” Paul recalled. “They can read into how he texts pretty well. Not all of us can see into that.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBoeheim entered coaching long before the cell phone became commonplace. When the first iPhone was released, in 2007, he had been SU’s head coach for 32 seasons. He’s spent the entirety of his life without a personal computer, sticking to little notebooks in his back pocket. A telephone behind his desk functioned as his only personal phone until he bought a flip phone about 10 years ago. The Syracuse head coach of 43 seasons has slowly developed a texting method his three children lovingly mock. But his technological progression highlights how the oldest coach in Division I basketball (74 years old) relates to assistants and players in a growing age of technology. Every season, his players remain between 17 and 23 while he ages another year. He understands the importance of texting when he needs to get a message across: to recruits, coaches and players, giving him new ways to express himself.“His texting has gotten much better,” Buddy said. “He’s starting to send stickers, which are fun. He’s getting funny with his texts. I can send him memes and he can understand them. He gets the slang. He’ll ask me, ‘What’s up’ or abbreviate stuff.”TJ Shaw | Staff PhotographerBoeheim’s style of texting is brief and colorful. In October, Jamie Boeheim popped off the couch and grabbed her iPhone in the other room. She considered her father’s texting style. “It’s so funny,” Jamie said. She scrolled through a recent text conversation with her dad. They usually exchange “I love you” messages and brief life updates. Plus the same sticker over and over: “Slay, slay, slay.”“He’s so bad with his phone,” said Jamie, a freshman women’s basketball player at the University of Rochester. “So bad.”Because his messages are brief, Boeheim texts back seemingly instantly. Former Syracuse star Wesley Johnson, now a player for the New Orleans Pelicans, said he texts Boeheim to check in every few months. “He replies mad quick,” Johnson said. “He’s pretty good.”If Boeheim’s going to text, he doesn’t send long messages. “Only a few words usually,” said Buddy, who noted his dad texts him, “Love you” and “Good day?” a few times per week. Assistant coaches and multiple players said “K” is the most frequent message he sends. But Jamie said her dad doesn’t know “K means throwing a little shade.” Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerOutside of the coaches and Buddy, Syracuse players rarely receive texts from their head coach. Walk-on Shaun Belbey said he’s never received or sent a single text to his coach. Junior shooting guard Tyus Battle and freshman point guard Jalen Carey said they haven’t texted Boeheim since they committed to Syracuse. Boeheim will text his oldest son, Jimmy, a sophomore forward at Cornell, a “good luck” text before most games, including against Syracuse. Memes to family members are not uncommon, with SpongeBob Squarepants and Despicable Me among his favorites. Emojis are a rarity for Boeheim to use, but when assistant coach Allen Griffin got one, he was taken aback. “I usually get the ‘K.’ So I’m a ‘K’ guy,” Griffin said. “I haven’t moved up in the ranks for too many emojis or something like that.”Griffin said that if given the option to text or call, Boeheim texts. It saves time. He’s taught himself to text because he realized he needs to, and while screen time can interfere with his daily life, Boeheim said texting is convenient.“How he texts, talks to them, relates — that’s why he’s still doing this,” Griffin said. “The kids we bring in can relate to him just as much as he can relate to them. That’s huge when he’s recruiting and coaching 20-year-old kids.”When Joe Girard III verbally committed to Syracuse on Oct. 14, Boeheim texted him after the announcement. The two had exchanged occasional texts throughout Girard III’s recruitment.“Really happy here in the cuse! Hope you guys have a great night,” Boeheim said. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBoeheim’s technological game has come a long way. About 10 years ago, the Syracuse coaches assembled into a coaches meeting at their practice facility. Boeheim’s flip phone buzzed. It was a good friend, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. After a brief conversation, Boeheim hung up. “The only two people in my contact list,” Boeheim told the coaches, “are Mike Krzyzewski and Juli (Boeheim’s wife).”SU director of basketball operations Kip Wellman bursted out laughing. His boss gravitated to a smartphone about five years ago, when all Wellman received was “K.” Now, Boeheim sends him three or four words per message. “It’s a good progression,” Wellman joked. While the Syracuse coaching staff doesn’t have a group chat, the Boeheim family does. Yet Boeheim himself isn’t part of it. He doesn’t own an iPhone, so the chat consists of Juli, Jamie, Buddy and Jimmy so they can use iMessage. They’ve been trying to get dad an iPhone for a few years. “He can be so stubborn,” Jimmy said. “Not sure he has a rationale.”Two years ago, the Boeheim family made their most aggressive attempt to make the switch: They bought him an iPhone for Christmas. When Boeheim saw the package, he wasn’t happy. He made them take it back to the store. “I just want to get him an iPhone by the end of the year maybe,” Buddy said. “I might have to get him that for Christmas (again).”Asst. Sports Copy Editor Anthony Dabbundo contributed reporting to this story Comments Published on December 23, 2018 at 9:43 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more