Nothing But Net-Plus: Boeheim Bolsters Case as One of Premier Coaches in History

Jim Boeheim became only the third major-college men's coach to reach the 900-win plateau (second if you don't count Bob Knight's three forfeit victories in Big Ten Conference competition). The most illuminating item about Boeheim after passing Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) last season to rank fourth among the nation's all-time winningest coaches is that the bespectacled "Baron of Upstate New York" has a stunning streak of nothing but winning records in 36 seasons with Syracuse. His worst worksheet was 16-13 in 1981-82 when the NIT-bound Orange dropped four of its last five outings.

Rupp never had a losing record in 41 campaigns but did post one breakeven mark with UK (13-13 in 1966-67). When assessing this topic, keep in mind the following mentors among the all-time biggest winners each had multiple non-winning seasons: Phog Allen (four non-winning records), Jim Calhoun (six), Lefty Driesell (four), Lou Henson (eight), Hank Iba (eight), Bob Knight (two), Mike Krzyzewski (four), Lute Olson (three), Dean Smith (two) and Eddie Sutton (two).

Has any bench boss come close to Boeheim in getting the most out of an underappreciated cast of players? On seven occasions, he has guided the Orange to the Top 20 in a final AP poll after they were not ranked that high in the preseason. Boeheim achieved the feat in his initial campaign (1976-77) and six times thereafter - 1983-84, 1995-96, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2008-09 and 2009-10.

No coach, active or retired, is anywhere close to Boeheim in total victories coaching his alma mater. Boeheim doesn't generate the headlines of other elite mentors as a tactician titan. But he entered this season with the best record among active coaches in close contests (196-118 mark in games decided by fewer than six points, 62.4%). He is atop the following list of five major-college coaches in history with winning marks every year in college careers spanning more than 20 years.

Coach Seasons Closest to Non-Winning Record
Jim Boeheim 36 16-13 (Syracuse in 1981-82)
*Jerry Tarkanian 31 16-12 (UNLV in 1980-81) and 19-15 (Fresno State in 2001-02)
John Wooden 29 14-12 (UCLA in 1959-60)
Lou Carnesecca 24 17-12 (St. John's in 1987-88)
Peck Hickman 23 13-12 (Louisville in 1957-58)

*Tarkanian also compiled seven more winning records in as many seasons for two community colleges in California, where he won five consecutive state championships after notching a 14-13 mark in 1961-62 at Riverside City College to begin his coaching odyssey.