PITTSBURGH - Most of the questions had been asked of Jim Boeheim in his postgame press conference Thursday when the Syracuse coach decided he had a few things of his own to say.
Upset about a story that appeared that day in USA Today, Boeheim decided to hold forth on the issue of Syracuse’s academic progress rate and the team’s graduation rate, which a USA Today columnist reported was less than 50 percent, and would prohibit the team from playing in the 2013 NCAA Tournament when standards go up.
Boehim disagreed. And he made it known in a rant that lasted long enough that the NCAA moderator attempted to cut him off. Boeheim’s reply? “I’m not done.’’
“I think people need to get better information,’’ the coach said. “Syracuse would be eligible to play in the tournament this year. We are qualified. We are over .930 [APR]. Under this year’s rules or last year’s rules, we would be eligible to play in the tournament. Where they got those statistics, they’re a year old. Even though they haven’t released this year’s statistics, they’re done. We are eligible. If they would have called us, we could have told them that.’’
But that wasn’t all, which was a bit strange given that Boeheim’s Orange had just survived a scare to edge No. 16 seed UNC Asheville.
Boeheim said he had been part of a committee to fine-tune the APR, which was instituted in 2005. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had proposed last year that all teams that didn’t graduate at least half of their players not be allowed to participate in the NCAA Tournament. Boeheim had called that “nuts’’ at the time.
“At the end of the day what I said, I did say, ‘This is nuts,’ ’’ Boeheim said. “It was one piece or really two pieces of the APR that I think are nuts. I want to make sure he did get that right. I did say that, but it was taken out of context.’’
Boeheim was angry that teams can become ineligible for the tournament after players leave early to sign with agents to go to the NBA.
“I do think part of it doesn’t work,’’ Boeheim said. “You have no control as a program and a coach if a kid comes to you and says, ‘I’m going, Coach. I need to go and get ready.’ I don’t think Harvard was punished when Bill Gates left early. I don’t think they were. I don’t think he did too badly.’’
Respect for Rodney
For much of the Kansas State-Southern Mississippi game, Rodney McGruder was the offense for Kansas State. He was the only one keeping the Wildcats in the game against the Golden Eagles. McGruder had scored 30 of his team’s first 55 points.
And though McGruder wouldn’t score again for the final 6 minutes and 15 seconds of Kansas State’s ugly 70-64 win over Southern Miss, by then a few of his teammates were able to contribute.
“He’s an awesome kid,’’ coach Frank Martin said. “He’s worked his tail off to grow every year. He embraces coaching. He wants you to push him. Then he’s like a sponge because he wants to learn in what way he can get better.’’
During Southern Mississippi’s loss, the school’s band could be heard yelling at Kansas State’s Angel Rodriguez, “Where’s your green card?’’ University president Martha Saunders said in a statement afterward that the school “deeply regrets’’ the remarks and apologized to Rodriguez . . . The Syracuse-UNC Asheville game marked only the 12th time in 109 matchups that a 16 seed lost by single digits. The last time was in 1997, when North Carolina beat Fairfield, 82-74.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin. The Associated Press contributed to this article.