Championship doesn't seem to have changed Jim Boeheim

Updated: October 20, 2003, 2:53 PM ET
ESPN

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- If his first national championship has changed him at all, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is keeping it to himself.

When he walked into Manley Field House on Friday for his annual preseason chat with the media, he greeted reporters with the same old line.

"I can't say I'm real happy to be back to see you," Boeheim said, his voice tinged with a customary hint of sarcasm.

That Boeheim wasn't wearing his championship ring only confirmed what he was saying.

"I feel just like I do every single year," he said. "We've got to get this team together and try to become a good basketball team. We're 0-0 right now. That's all this team has to worry about.

"We go forward from here and try to be the best team this team can be," said Boeheim, who has 653 victories, 22nd all-time. "There's no carryovers in team sports, and some years that's a real good thing."

Unranked before last season began, the Orangemen produced their third 30-win season (30-5) in Boeheim's 27 years as coach at his alma mater. In winning his first title in three championship game appearances, he guided Syracuse to consecutive tournament victories over the best of the Big 12 -- Oklahoma, Texas and then Kansas in the final game in New Orleans.

That is just a pleasant memory now, nothing more.

"I'm done talking about last year, I'm done thinking about it," Boeheim said. "I've really been done mentally with last year for two or three months. I haven't looked at a tape or thought about a game since we got ready to play Kansas."

Instead, he's thinking mainly about trying to replace the main man on last year's team. Forward Carmelo Anthony, who as a freshman averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds, was drafted third overall by the Denver Nuggets, leaving a substantial void to fill.

"That's the key," Boeheim said. "When you lose a player of Carmelo's abilities, everybody's got to pick it up a little bit. No one guy is ever going to replace him."

The Orangemen also lost senior guard Kueth Duany, but they have four solid freshmen ready to begin their careers: 6-foot-5 guard Louis McCroskey of New York City; 6-9 forward Terrence Roberts of Jersey City, N.J.; 6-8 forward Demetris Nichols of Boston; and 6-11 center-forward Darryl Watkins of Paterson, N.J.

"Whenever you incorporate four new guys, it's going to take some time," Boeheim said. "We're fortunate. We have seven guys back who played and know the program and have a good understanding of what we try to do. That's all real positive."

That group is comprised of junior forward Hakim Warrick, sophomore guard Gerry McNamara, junior center Craig Forth, junior guard-forward Josh Pace, sophomore forward Matt Gorman, sophomore guard Billy Edelin and center Jeremy McNeil, the lone senior.

"They all know what they are. They know what they've got to do," Boeheim said. "They want to be a great basketball team, and that's what they're going to focus in on, trying to be that.

"We're not last year's team. We're a different team. We have to approach it that way, really," he said. "They have the confidence that they gained from last year. That's something. All your experiences are what make you what you are. All the experiences that we've had are going to help us."

The Orangemen take the court Saturday afternoon for their first practice, and Sunday night the whole team will head to the Carrier Dome to watch Anthony lead the Nuggets against the Detroit Pistons in an NBA exhibition game.

Then, it's back to work.

"I'm looking forward to it the same as always," Boeheim said. "If anything, I'd say I'm a little more eager than normal, but not much. I'm always eager. I'm ready to go."

So is the team, which has high expectations.

"Anything less than going back to the Final Four isn't going to be good," Edelin said. "I want to win again, and everybody thinks we can't do it because of Melo. The experts say that we can't, and that's just going to help us be a better team. I'm excited."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index