Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Q&A: Boeheim talks Melo, Knicks
By Jared Zwerling
While Carmelo Anthony spent just one season at Syracuse, his former college coach Jim Boeheim has had the unique opportunity to work with the Knicks star twice in the Olympics, in 2008 and 2012.
Reflecting on their time in London, Boeheim said it was fun to watch Anthony, who led the Orange to the 2003 national championship, not only improve his shooting ability but also mature as a leader.
Jim Boeheim and Carmelo Anthony, who have been reunited on two Olympic teams, won a national title with Syracuse in 2003.
In a conversation with ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday, Boeheim talked about Melo's experience in last year's Games and what impressed him about his play, plus he shared his thoughts on Melo's fellow Olympian Tyson Chandler and this season's Knicks.
What was your time like in London with Melo?
Getting Carmelo back, it's great. We've had a great relationship for a long time. It's fun to see him play in context with all those players, how they came together and really get along as a group, work as a group. It's really been a tremendous experience being involved with that. He's such a tremendous offensive player. When he's swimming with those guys, it's easy for him because they can't focus on him like they do in the NBA, so he gets a lot of good looks, and when he gets real good looks, he makes a lot of shots.
His outside shooting really picked up then, and he's carried that over to this season. What do you credit that to?
I think he was a pretty good shooter in college and his first years in the NBA, but I think his shooting -- particularly his 3-point shooting -- has really improved. I think he's become a tremendous shooter, and that makes it easier for him to get to the basket and get easier shots as well because of his quickness. ... It's a natural progression. You've seen some pretty good shooters as they go through their NBA careers. [Michael] Jordan, Kobe [Bryant]. I think if you look at the shooters, they're all pretty good when they start out, but they do get better through obviously repetition, practice.
Did you have any points of emphasis for him last summer?
I think he listens to what people talk to him about. He was a good learner when he was here. He would take advice, he would take coaching and try to adjust his game. He was always someone that you could reach very easily.
What do you think is underrated about him?
People off the court don't realize how friendly he is and how well-liked he is. I think he's really, really well-liked by not just his teammates, but the guys he plays against. He's got a lot of friends because he's an outgoing type of personality, and he's always had that. ... He was a very, very good leader even as a freshman.
Before this season, Melo said the Olympic experience helped him trust his teammates more. Did you notice that?
When he was here, he was very good. He would let other guys make plays. He was a really good team player. He never didn't trust those guys when he was here. That's why we won.
Did you see any improvements on defense?
I think he's improved as a player overall. The thing I've noticed about him and other Olympic players that we have had -- LeBron [James] and Carmelo and several of these guys -- they really have gotten better. They were pretty young players back then. ... You can see the improvement in their game over the years. Big improvement.
What was it like getting to know Tyson Chandler?
I like Tyson Chandler. He's really a great guy. He's really a good teammate. He wants to win. He wants to do what it takes to win, and I was very, very impressed with him in the times that I've worked with him. Jason Kidd is also a great teammate. He wants to win. Those guys are good guys to have on your team.
What are your thoughts on the Knicks?
I think they're good. I think they're definitely better, and if they can fit everybody in as they come back from injuries, at the end of the year, I think they'll have a chance.
How tough is it for a coach to deal with injuries?
I think it's difficult. You have different groups and players come back, and you have different dynamics, especially when they're all there for the first time. So it takes some doing. It's not that easy to do.