Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
No, it’s not necessarily because Boeheim owns an NCAA championship ring and Matta does not.
It’s more because Boeheim walked on at Syracuse 50 years ago and never left.
Like most of his colleagues in the coaching brethren, Matta has changed jobs and moved his family to numerous stops. He has served as a head coach at Butler, Xavier and now Ohio State.
“The fact that Coach Boeheim has been there, in a lot of ways I envy that because I think one of the hardest things I’ve always said about the coaching profession is you want a place where you can call home for your family, and that’s hard to do in this profession,” Matta said on the eve of Ohio State’s matchup with Syracuse in the East Region final here Saturday.
“You know my children are 13 and 11,” Matta added. “They’ve lived in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. For him to be at the place that he’s never left, I think it’s a tremendous feat. I envy him for it.”
Matta, 44, is 23 years younger than Boeheim, 67, and says he’s always admired him.
“I hate to say this, since I was a little kid, just watching Syracuse year in, year out, all the great players, all the great teams they’ve had,” Matta said.
Obviously, this year has been a special challenge for Syracuse with all the off-the-court distractions, from the Bernie Fine sex allegation scandal to the Yahoo! report of failed drug tests by players to Fab Melo being declared ineligible on the eve of the tournament.
“I think you see teams in the NCAA Tournament that there’s a cause, something that has happened,” Matta said. “What Mick [Cronin] has done at Cincinnati since early December, those guys had a cause. He’s done a great job with them.
“And I think Coach Boeheim has done that.”
Asked if Syracuse deserved to be compared to Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas in the pantheon of great college basketball programs, Matta didn’t hesitate.
“I view Syracuse as one of the elite programs in college basketball,” he said. “I mean, they just have stood the test of time, year after year after year.”
(Photo: Daily News)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.