Basketball

Jimmy Boeheim on watching an entire basketball season on TV after Ivy League shutdown

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Syracuse, N.Y. – Jimmy Boeheim could watch as much basketball as he wanted this past season.

That’s not as much fun as it sounds.

The Ivy League was the only Division I conference in the country to cancel its 2020-21 basketball season due to the coronavirus.

That meant no games for Boeheim, who would have been a senior at Cornell this past season.

“It’s definitely been tough,’’ Jimmy Boeheim said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “I just love being out there on the court competing.’’

Boeheim said it was difficult to watch other teams play while the Ivy League had shut down its entire season.

“I’m trying to keep things in perspective,’’ he said. “Guys miss years all the time because of injuries and stuff. There’s obviously a lot worse things happening out there than just missing out on a basketball season.’’

While Jimmy Boeheim could only watch, college basketball players all across the country took the courts to play the 2020-21 season. Those players included his younger brother, Buddy, who plays for their father, Jim, at Syracuse.

“I watch all of (Syracuse’s) games, obviously,’’ Jimmy said. He does not, however, watch the games with his mother, Juli.

“Definitely not my mom,’’ he said. “I can’t watch the games in the same room with her. She’s yelling and going crazy. I’m a calm, take-it-all-in type of guy.’’

Jimmy does like to watch games with his father. The two share an analytical approach to the game and how they watch it.

“My dad and I will watch games at night,’’ Jimmy said. “It’s fun. We’re constantly talking the game. Why did that guy do that? Casual debates here and there. We’re both pretty opinionated. It’s fun to watch games with a guy that knows so much about it.’’

On Friday, Jimmy will watch as Syracuse plays San Diego State in an NCAA tournament first-round game in Indianapolis.

“I’m really looking forward to it, to be honest,’’ Jimmy said. “In my opinion, it’s the best sporting event of the year every year.’’

In a normal year, he would have traveled to Indianapolis to see the games in person. This year, he is staying at home with his mother.

“With everything going on, I didn’t feel as much of a pull to go,’’ he said. “My mom and I thought it would be best to stay home and watch on TV.’’

Jimmy Boeheim has spent most of the past year living at his parents’ home rather than being on the Cornell campus. During most of the pandemic, Cornell players didn’t have access to the school’s athletic facilities.

“I haven’t played more than 1-on-1 since our last game against Princeton last March,’’ Boeheim said.

At home, he could work out in the gym built into the basement. With a full court, he went up against his brother during the summer. But once the summer ended, Jimmy Boeheim’s 1-on-1 foe was former SU guard Eric Devendorf.

“We’re both two competitive dudes,’’ Jimmy said. “I’ll be the first to tell you he’s still got it.’’

It’s an unusual pairing. Boeheim stands 6-foot-8, while Devendorf was listed at 6-3 during his days at Syracuse.

“We play with a 5-second limit,’’ Boeheim said. “That limits me in terms of getting into the post. It’s a good rule crafted by him. He’s so tough off the dribble. It’s helped me. It’s made me score in other ways besides backing into the post.’’

Jimmy Boeheim said he has remained in contact with several of his Cornell teammates.

“A lot of times some of us are watching the same game and we’ll talk,’’ he said. “It’s fun to bounce stuff off each other.’’

Last November, after the Ivy League announced its decision to cancel the season, Boeheim and three other Cornell seniors entered their names in the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Boeheim, who is scheduled to graduate this spring, said he has not decided where he will play next season.

Only one of the four Cornell seniors has announced his plans. Guard Terrance McBride has transferred to Rice.

“I don’t know yet,’’ Boeheim said. “I’m still just taking more time. We’ll see how the season wraps up.’’

Contact Mike Waters anytime: Email | Twitter

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