Boeheim starts last road tour through Big East

Boeheim starts last road tour through Big East

Jim Boeheim has started his last slate of road games in the Big East.

And it seems to be sending him down memory lane.

After No. 7 Syracuse beat South Florida 55-44 in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, the first conference road game this season for Boeheim's team, he spoke at length about his past, his half-century at the school as a player, student and coach - and how he would have stopped coaching if the Orange were leaving in a heyday for the rapidly changing Big East.

``We were in a good league, and then a great league, and a great league, and pretty good, then it was great, then it was good, then it was great and now it's something different,'' Boeheim said. ``It changes all the time. It's not the same.

``If it was the same and we were leaving, I wouldn't leave. I would have just retired. It's not the same.''

It was announced in September 2011 that the Atlantic Coast Conference council of presidents unanimously voted to accept Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two schools that were considered Big East cornerstones. They'll officially move leagues next fall, and Louisville and Notre Dame - in all sports but football - have since been approved for addition to the ACC as well.

Boeheim has long spoken of his affinity for the Big East, the league that was founded in 1979 as a basketball conference and counted Syracuse as a charter member. These days, even someone like Boeheim has trouble figuring out who's coming and going through the Big East in this realignment trend for major conferences.

``It's Houston and SMU and you can't even name all the teams that are going to be there and when they're going to be there,'' Boeheim said. ``It's not the same. The ACC is a very stable league, I think - knock on wood, knock on some president's head. We hope it's stable. But who knows? Nothing's really stable. Things are going to be changing. I'll be fishing someplace and playing golf. But there's many changes yet to come, no question.''

Those changes don't include Boeheim looking elsewhere.

He has 904 wins and passed Bob Knight (902) for No. 2 on the men's college basketball all-time victory list last week, trailing only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski - someone whom Boeheim has no designs on catching, since he said Krzyzewski plans to coach forever.

``I feel I have a good job,'' Boeheim said. ``I'm from Central New York. I grew up there. I was a walk-on there. I've been there for 68 years. I've been at Syracuse for 50. I've never seriously considered leaving, ever, at any time. If I knew what I knew about the NBA a couple years ago I might have thought about going to be the NBA, but it's a little bit past my time for that right now.''

Not even being around NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade - and former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony - during his stint as an assistant under Krzyzewski with USA Basketball had Boeheim looking to the pro game.

In short, he knows the national team isn't quite the same as the rigors of the pro game.

``It's unbelievable to work with those guys. But it's not like that in the league,'' Boeheim said. ``If I could go work with those guys, I'd sign on for that. They wouldn't even have to pay me that much. But they were so good. The pros, all the myths and everything, we had them five months for five years and we never had a guy late for a practice, meeting, nothing. We never had to sit down and talk to somebody.''

There was a certain irony to the timing of Boeheim speaking at length about why he never left Syracuse, given that Doug Marrone - the Orange football coach for the past four seasons - reached an agreement to become the Buffalo Bills' new coach Sunday, according to the three people familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press.

Boeheim said his reason for staying put this long was simple.

``Nobody wanted me. I found a place that wanted me so, you know, I stayed there,'' Boeheim said. ``It's sad where we are but you can't look at a football coach or a basketball coach who sees an opportunity that he feels is good for him. If he loses two years in a row, he's going to be fired. So how can you be loyal? They're going to fire you if you don't win. I don't fault coaches for looking.''

More than 3,000 Syracuse fans, by Boeheim's estimate, made the trip to Tampa for the game against USF. And of those, plenty surely were those who merely wanted an escape from a tough few weeks of winter in Central New York.

Yes, Syracuse's winter weather can be oft-maligned. In time, it changes. His address does not.

``I like it there. It's a good place,'' Boeheim said. ``Three months, the weather's bad - and we play basketball in them.''

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers


Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.


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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final


George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.