UPDATE - Some grammatical fixes and the backstory of the blowup from the parties involved...Looks like I was a bit right on Boeheim v. Katz (bit.ly/VXr0vL) but it went deeper (bit.ly/VXr0fq) than my X-Files version...
Jim Boeheim is an absolute magician.
He is a master of misdirection this season.
This whole JB vs. Andy Katz thing is a smokescreen. At least, I think so.
To catch you up, Andy Katz reported during SU’s 66-58 loss at Connecticut that James Southerland’s academic suspension went back to “two paragraphs” in some paper for some class back in the day.
Katz kicked a one-man hornet's nest that the local media was not even allowed to try booting as both Boeheim and Southerland himself have preached privacy over and over as to why the senior forward was sidelined.
Boeheim was not pleased that Katz spilled some beans.
“I will answer anyone's question but yours, because you are an idiot. And a disloyal person,” Boeheim said to the Four Letter Network’s NCAA Basketball Ace in the postgame presser.
That is the headline today more than the fact that SU just played pretty poorly on Wednesday night. Boeheim is misdirecting the attention from the floor to himself as a coach needs to, but more on that later.
Andy Katz provided the misdirection.
Here is what I think happened, this is completely 100 percent speculation, and I only offer it because I have been in similar situations.
Katz and Southerland were talking casually during shootaround. Katz asked about how Southerland felt about the whole academic thing and if it was a relief that it was finally over. Southerland, thinking that it was all off the record, said something to the effect that it felt great to be through it, but he thought it was a little silly that such a big deal was made over two paragraphs in some paper. Katz’s ears perked up. (Southerland had been great in controlled settings to not let things slip, or simply absent, so he had never been coached on how to talk during shoot-a-round which is typically left as a no-talk time in a gentlemen’s agreement by the local Syracuse media.) Katz then asked something like, ‘That was it two paragraphs? That is stupid.’ Southerland confirmed that it was two paragraphs and then jacked up another warm up three-pointer and Katz had his tidbit to use on-air. Katz thought it was all on the record, Southerland didn’t. After the loss, someone told Boeheim, and he was pissed.
I'm told by "in the know" sources that Katz irked Boeheim by sharing info JB believed was off the record on the air re: James Southerland.— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) February 14, 2013
Then the coach thought for a second and used the situation to his advantage.
I think Boeheim went over the top with his language and location of calling Katz out on purpose. There are better ways to go about a disagreement, of course, and this will be a major turn off for many, but 1) Boeheim doesn't care 2) Boeheim doesn't need to care...900 wins does that 3) ESPN will be back because they need SU and the ACC eventually 4) There is no such thing as bad publicity and 5) This is all a measure response by the coach to divert us from what actually happened.
SU had lost its fourth game of the season - all to unranked teams and all on the road or neutral courts. SU had one of its weakest offensive nights of the season. SU had lost to a team going nowhere in the postseason. Finally, SU’s backcourt had been badly outplayed.
The Orange shot terribly and the backcourt had, arguably, its worst game of the season (MCW went 15 points, one assist, four turnovers; Triche was 0-for-7 from 3-pt range, nine points, three assists, and three turnovers).
Since Katz had revealed “private” information (though Southerland himself had probably technically leaked it), Boeheim had something to be mad about. Jim Boeheim is a smart hombre. If you talk to him about anything, ANYTHING, other than SU hoops he is well informed and has a point of view. With the notice that Katz had leaked the information on Southerland, Boehiem was pissed for a second and then thought that he had the smoke that he needed so the media would turn the mirrors on him instead of his team.
Now, it is all JB vs. AK today.
Is Katz "disloyal?" I don't think so. I think he burned a bridge with a source, but he has no professional allegiance to the Orange, nor Boeheim, nor Southerland. By the letter of the law...Katz is technically right.
.@espnandykatz response to the press room crowd: last time I checked I wasn't getting paid by Syracuse U— WAER Sports (@WAERSports) February 14, 2013
It feels a little dirty though.
I have some experience with this too.
I have been around the batting cage with professional baseball players at Syracuse Chiefs and Auburn Doubledays games just shooting the...ahem...stuff ala. what I described above.
How is the arm? The swing is looking good are you working on something? Any truth to X rumor floating out there?
Those are all questions that I have asked and usually I have gotten answers to. Honest answers. It is all about developing sources and insight into the game. It is part of our jobs in bringing y’all information about something that y’all are incredibly passionate about.
Every good reporter and writer needs that information, but not everyone of them needs to report it directly to use it effectively.
In my time, I have not turned around and announced the shared information during a game directly from a player unless that player knew, unequivocally, that I was going to announce it. I don't work for the parent club Washington Nationals, but I do work with them. I don't have to be a lackey, but it is important, to me, to have some compassion too.
To me, it seems like Southerland - and therefore Boeheim - didn't know Katz was going to run with the factoid.
For me, it isn’t worth the mini-scoop for the retweets.
Some people will disagree with me.
I think Andy Katz is one.
It is a gray area.
I admit it.
But it is also about ethics and building trust with sources that you may need in the future.
For Katz, in this case, it was worth getting his mini-scoop in game on Wednesday and probably burning the bridge. To Katz, it seems it was worth getting something that no one in Syracuse had been able to pry loose including Mike Waters who is one of the best in the business at squeezing fact water out of PR rock (you don’t have to look much further than Lord and Taylor’s for proof). Boeheim caught wind of the announcement and called Katz out for it afterward.
Ultimately, the reason why I think Boeheim called Katz out is that now the story is all about a “feud” instead of the fact that Syracuse is 5-3 in its last eight games against legitimate teams and its offense is still iffy on its best days. It is all misdirection - misdirection that Katz handed him by using something that I wouldn’t have used directly - all misdirection.
There is some credence to the misdirection theory too.
If you remember back to the Detroit win this season, Boeheim used No. 900 and his soapbox to talk about gun control. SU nearly blew a lead late to the Titans that night in front of Dave Bing and the rest of us.
Boeheim used the gun control stance as misdirection, in theory.
Andy Katz provided the ball coach the misdirection he needed on Wednesday and I don’t think that Katz needed to.