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Tucked underneath the Barclays Center stands, a short walk and a few turns away from where Syracuse lost to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, Buddy Boeheim glanced toward the black tablecloth and namecard in front of him and started to shake his head. He’d join his brother, Jimmy Boeheim, and father, head coach Jim Boeheim, at the postgame press conference despite not playing against the Blue Devils due to his suspension after punching Florida State’s Wyatt Wilkes in the midsection during SU’s win on Wednesday.
“I’ve been thinking about the play for the last 24 hours, to tell you the truth,” Buddy said. “Over and over again — why I did it.”’
He opened by saying how proud he was of Syracuse — of Jimmy for his 28 points, of his SU teammates for how they led Duke and kept within striking distance before the Blue Devils pulled away at the end for their 88-79 win. He choked up when talking about how he disappointed the younger kids on the team, who view him as a role model and how that “hurts me the most.” And, near the end of his statement that lasted more than three minutes, he said that it “sucks I had to go out like that,” and that the journey to becoming SU’s top scorer was “priceless” and “unbelievable” as Jimmy reached across with his left arm and patted Buddy’s back.
Buddy wasn’t whistled for a foul after Joe Girard III hit a 3-pointer during the first half on Wednesday, and officials didn’t congregate at the video monitor to review the play as Wilkes crouched over in pain on the court before subbing out. Instead — after Boeheim, Girard, Cole Swider and FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton addressed the incident postgame, Wilkes released a video and Buddy apologized via SU Athletics on Twitter Wednesday night — the conference suspended him later in the night for one game, effectively ending his SU career after the Orange were eliminated from the conference tournament.
Boeheim said that the ACC didn’t handle the incident properly, as the punch Buddy threw at Wilkes kept the Orange without their leading scorer in a game they needed to keep any postseason aspirations alive.
“The tweet is fine, but I want to say personally, myself, that I apologize to everyone I let down yesterday, because I know I did and I’m most disappointed in myself,” Buddy said. “Trust me, I know I’ll learn from this … That’s why, if this is the worst thing I ever do in my life, I can live with that.”
So instead of slotting into Syracuse’s starting lineup for the 100th time, instead of trying to help the Orange build on their 96-point outburst against the Seminoles, he stationed himself in between Paddy Casey and Chaz Owens on the bench — holding his arms in the air after made baskets and ultimately watching as the Orange fell flat in the game’s final minutes. He finished the season averaging 19.2 points-per-game, which led the ACC, and finished 13th all-time on Syracuse’s career scoring list, according to syracuse.com.
After Buddy finished his statement, Boeheim, sitting two seats to his left, adjusted his glasses and said, “I’ve got a couple things to say.” Twenty-four hours prior, he sat in that same spot and addressed the incident for the first time, commenting that he thought the punch was “inadvertent” and that “I don’t think he hit him.”
On Thursday, Boeheim said that if the situation had been handled properly and the referees concluded that Buddy committed a flagrant-two foul, he would’ve been ejected from the FSU game but not suspended for the Duke quarterfinal matchup. “It should have been handled yesterday,” Boeheim said. “It wasn’t.” He added that Buddy received the “maximum” punishment for his punch.
Buddy said that, from his perspective, “we hit a big 3, I got excited and turned around — never meant to throw a punch.” There hadn’t been any prior exchanges preceding the pivotal one between him and Wilkes, and “it was just an honest mistake on my part.
“I have to live with that,” Buddy said. “I have to own up to that. I’m not here to argue whether or not I should have played or if I should have got suspended.”
His appearance at the postgame press conference turned into an appearance that doubled as a public apology and quasi-goodbye, as both he and Boeheim have confirmed that he doesn’t expect to return to SU for his final year of eligibility. Jimmy, who scored a season-high 28 points against the Blue Devils, doesn’t plan to return, either.
Boeheim said postgame that he didn’t think Buddy “would get there,” with “there” being the program he’s coached for 46 years. The pair recounted the film sessions they’d have when Buddy was 4 years old, the daily pre-practice workouts with Gerry McNamara and the Peach Jam where Buddy hit seven 3s and defeated Penny Hardaway’s team, impressing former North Carolina head coach Roy Williams while at the same time convincing his father to take him at Syracuse.
But the punch — and the suspension — still loomed over the memories, the final chapter to Buddy’s SU career with a twist unlike any of the previous ones, with the same tinge of emotion from his opening statement still present when he uttered his final line of the press conference, pushed back from his chair, grabbed a water bottle and walked back toward the Syracuse locker room one more time.
The post ‘I have to live with that’: Buddy Boeheim addresses suspension after SU loss to Duke appeared first on The Daily Orange.