Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim has recruited all-star players such as Carmelo Anthony, Sherman Douglas, and Derrick Coleman. He’s scored a national title and helped coach the 2008 Olympic team to a gold medal. Now he’s going for the gold again. MensFitness.com caught up with Coach Boeheim just as he’s gearing up for the 2012 Olympic games to get the inside scoop about the competition. Plus, Coach shares his thoughts on retirement and why he’s making it his mission to fight cancer.
What’s the biggest difference between the college and the professional athlete?
The biggest difference is that Olympic players are so much more mature, and they pick up things more quickly. There’s a higher level of talent. They play 100 games a year, have a strong work ethic, and know what has to be done.
With college kids, you’re teaching the basic, everyday things that have to be taught when kids get into school. With pros, they’ve already learned the basics—there’s much more they can do so you’re more flexible with what you can do as a coach. At the Olympics we’re coaching guys that that are the best in the world, and maybe even the best players ever.
The NBA is made up of some of the best basketball players in the world too, but within the Olympic games you have NBA athletes on different teams. How does this affect the competition?
The foreign players start out playing together at 15, and grow up playing together in their national teams. These guys really know each other well. That's the key thing that foreign teams have, is that they’ve already been playing together in their national teams for eight to 10 years.
Which Olympic teams do you think are going to be the most challenging?
The best team by far is Spain. In the last Olympics we beat them only in a 4-point game with about four minutes to go. In all the other games, we won by about 30 points. Spain has really good veteran guards, and now they have Ibaka, plus the Gasol brothers and Sergio.
Other good teams are Brazil and Argentina. France is pretty good. But Spain is really the team to look out for.