Jim Boeheim goes for 900th victory - a milestone that needs no description

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Syracuse head coach is expected to reach a historic milestone Monday night.

Jim Boeheim may not want to talk about it, but history is expected to be made Monday night when his No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange play the visiting Detroit Titans in a non-conference men's basketball game at the Carrier Dome.

When the final buzzer sounds it's expected that the 68-year-old Boeheim, who's in the midst of his 37th season as head coach, will reach the 900-win milestone.

The feat, which has only been surpassed by two other Division I head coaches, Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, may get glossed over in Boeheim's post-game press conference. "That just does not matter," said Boeheim Saturday when asked about reaching the milestone, however it's an achievement that may never be reached again.

Currently, two active coaches, West Virginia's Bob Huggins (714) and North Carolina's Roy Williams (683), are in striking distance of 800 wins - a mark Boeheim reached with a season-opening victory over Albany in 2009-10 - but both still need to coach a while and win a lot of games to reach it.

The 36-year-old Brad Stevens of Butler University (147 victories) and the 35-year-old Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth University (91 victories) are each off to good starts, but are still obviously way behind Boeheim; who earned victory 100 and 150 at the ages of 35 and 38, respectively.

The 900-win club is so small that not even John Wooden, a 10-time National Champion, Adolph Rupp, a four-time NCAA winner, and Dean Smith, a two-time NCAA champion, are a part of.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, who has twice as many Final Four appearances as his former mentor, will need to win at least 28 games for the next 10 seasons to sniff 900 victories. Pitino is 60 years old.

Reaching 900 wins is the shinning example of consistency and loyalty, and though Boeheim may not have the best public perception, he's well respected among his peers.

When his time at SU is over - Boeheim regularly admits he doesn't know when he will retire he just knows he's not doing it right now - Boeheim will obviously go out as one of the winningest coaches of all-time. However, his lack of hardware (NCAA championships or Final Four appearances) will hurt his ranking among the greats.

Overall, there will be a clear separation between Wooden and Krzyzewski from the rest of the "greatest of all times" like: Knight, Rupp, Smith, Pitino, Williams, Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Lute Olson, Gary Williams and others.

But if there's one thing Boeheim will have nearly on all of them it's this milestone, which started with a 75-48 victory over Harvard on Nov. 26, 1976.

Since then the Lyons, N.Y. native, who Saturday admitted he almost left Syracuse at the age of 17, has won a National Championship in 2003, appeared in three Final Fours, 29 NCAA Tournaments, collected 10 Big East Conference titles, five tournament crowns, and a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2005.

"People always ask me what it means to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame," said Boeheim during his induction speech. "When you start out at five years old and all you want to do is play basketball and then, when you can't play anymore, you want to coach the game of basketball, it's almost impossible.

"I've been thinking for seven or eight months, how do you describe it? To me, the only way I can describe it is to say the names like John Wooden, John Thompson, Morgan Wooten, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Larry Bird, David Bing.

"When you join those people, when you're able to get into that building, and you thought the only way you were going to be able to get in was to buy a ticket at that door, you can't describe what it means."

On Monday night, if the Orange avoid an upset to Detroit, Boeheim will probably not want to describe what it means to reach 900 victories. That will come at a later time, probably, in an interview during a charity golf event 10 years from now.

Luckily, we will not need a description from Boeheim because the names below or ahead of him on the all-time wins list will do all the talking for him.

Note: If Syracuse goes on to win its remaining non-conference games, Boeheim will tie Knight on the all-time wins list on Saturday, Dec. 29, against Alcorn State and will surpass Knight on Monday, Dec. 31, against Central Connecticut.

However, the Orange (9-0) will first need to defeat the 8-1 Temple Owls on Saturday at Madison Square Garden (noon ET on ESPN2).

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