CHICAGO -- Jim Boeheim sent his right arm into the air, stretching and straining his torso, trying to reach some impossibly high place.
At the tip of his arm was a hand, and on that hand was a message:
Good. Now, get back.
With a wave and a simple flick of the wrist, Boeheim called off a full-court press that had worked to utter tactical perfection in crucial stretches of the second half and that would, in the end, prove the deciding factor in Syracuse's 68-62 win over No. 1 seed Virginia -- and in its remarkable, unbelievable, somehow totally real trip to the 2016 Final Four.
After a first half in which Virginia held Syracuse to its lowest total (21 points) in years, Boeheim had seen his team score 20 points in four minutes, erase a 16-point second-half deficit, ride the suddenly lights-out 3-point shooting of Malachi Richardson and take a rub-your-eyes lead, 59-58, with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game.
The method of the run -- beyond Syracuse's suddenly cold-blooded shooting, even against Virginia's solid defense -- was brilliant. Boeheim went to a full-court press, the same one his team had used to dislodge Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. More than that, though: He stayed with the full-court press, even as, at first, Virginia broke it easily, getting the same kind of easy fast-break finishes it used to bury Iowa State on Friday night.
It looked counterproductive. Instead, it was genius: The only way to get back in a game against this Virginia team was to force it to go fast -- to make the prospect of open-court layups and dunks so enticing it couldn't help but speed itself up.
"We've made a lot of comebacks, and we've won, and we've made some comebacks and didn't quite get there," Boeheim said. "I think we were down 50-40 against Virginia -- and that's a tough thing against Virginia."
Boeheim knew: This was the only way.
Eventually, those layups dried up. Eventually, Virginia began turning the ball over. Eventually, Richardson would find his stroke, and Tyler Lydon would bury two key 3-pointers, and Virginia's lead would shrink and then shrink some more, until suddenly it wasn't Virginia's lead anymore at all.
Then, the mastermind at the center of Syracuse's mind-blowing comeback, and the trip to Houston it would seal, raised his arm into the sky and told his team to get back.