Phil Jackson evaluates Syracuse basketball’s Final Four loss to Michigan on Twitter

Phil Jackson on Twitter

Former NBA coaches Kurt Rambis, left, and Phil Jackson live-tweeted the 2013 Final Four games and offered thoughts on Syracuse basketball. (Photo via @JeanieBuss)


The 2013 NCAA Tournament has come to an end for the Syracuse basketball team after the Michigan Wolverines beat the Orange 61-56 on Saturday night. It marked the end of Jim Boeheim’s fantastic postseason turnaround after an embarrassing 61-39 loss to Georgetown on March 9 — SU went on to the Big East Championship and then defied bracket expectations with a run to the Final Four, and everyone’s looking for answers why Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche and the rest of the Orange aren’t playing Louisville for the championship.

“Zen Master” Phil Jackson, one man who knows about winning, may have the answers. In his first attempt at live-tweeting, the legendary NBA coach shared his thoughts during both Final Four games (the first being between Wichita State and Louisville) while hanging out with former Los Angeles Lakers star Kurt Rambis.

“Don’t know who to pick as fav in this game..opponents must have a good game plan vs @Cuse must have high/low active posts vs the zone AND good shooter and rebounders and Michigan has the shooters,” Jackson wrote in a series of tweets. “Orange people are very quick defensively, but Cardinals and Orange teams met in the Big East finals and played during regular season… vs zones one if it’s a 2-3 zone you must mismatch point gd offense-if it’s a 1-3-1 must use 2 gd front.”

Some more highlights from the 67-year-old basketball guru’s live-tweeting of the Syracuse-Michigan showdown:

  • He didn’t offer NBA scouting reports on other players, but said Syracuse’s Carter-Williams “is a nice looking player-good size, handle, and can shoot from range… I’ve been educated on MCW, but he has the right form and I like his stroke.”
  • On Michigan’s Mitch McGary “Kurt and I laughed at the same time when McGary flinched on that pass @KRambis”
  • SU’s leading scorer C.J. “Fair is more than a Fair shooter…he’s good”
  • On momentum: “mo is on the orange side and it’s going to be a tight one”
  • On the Wolverines in the second half: “Poor shot selection by that yellow team…” and “Two bad plays by Michigan…McGary got up in the air to pass and then that 2 on 1 break-you must pass the ball” and “even if that was their last time out coach Beinlein had to get control of team. OOPs what was that call…?”
  • On UM’s defensive strategy for the last 15 seconds of the game: “Can’t let Orange get a 3 off…foul on the floor, but under 10secs…”
  • After backup guard Trevor Cooney tanked a layup attempt to tie the game: “Well-well it’s over and so am I…thanks for the intercourse all you bball fans.”

Jackson, who just joined the social network 10 days ago, is still learning how to share his thoughts in 140 characters or less but has already been verified on Twitter and gained more than 230,000 followers since his first (somewhat nonsensical) post explaining why he’s @PhilJackson11 and not another number: “11 champ;ipnsikp[ ringhs.” (The former coach of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls has 11 NBA championship rings and, as you might have guessed, @PhilJackson and @Phil_Jackson are already taken by other users on the site.)

“How many people know what a wheat shock really is? @krambis when I was a kid I helped my uncle bring in the harvest-he used a threasher,” he wrote during the Wichita State-Louisville game, explaining the Kansas-based team’s name of the Shockers. “First you had to cut the grain and put in in a shock and then transport it to the threasher. the combine did all the jobs at one time.”

So welcome to Twitter, Mr. Jackson. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on the end of an unforgettable season for Syracuse basketball fans. We’ll see Boeheim back as coach in the ACC next year — and I’ll be back with more lipreading tweets during games. And hopefully we’ll all see Jackson back coaching in the NBA soon.

Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim retiring? How tweeting on the wrong account can really screw things up

Syracuse University's official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim's possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Syracuse University’s official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim’s possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Is Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim retiring? Yes, eventually. Is he retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season? Possibly.

The 68-year-old curmudgeon captain has more than 900 wins, all of them with the Orange(men), and all good things must come to an end eventually. But hopefully this isn’t how it ends.

A tweet posted by @SyracuseU, the official Twitter account for Syracuse University, wrote: “Did I just watch Jim Boeheim’s last game in the Carrier Dome? One source says yes.” It included a link to DYST Now, which stands for Did You See That?! and claims to be “Syracuse’s First All-Sports Newspaper.”

Truthfully, it’s a blog. Written by a college freshman at Onondaga Community College. Whose bio says he’s “been fortunate enough to interview several famous people/players such as famous broadcaster, Bob Costas, the first African American NBA player, Earl Lloyd, NFL player, Chandler Jones, as well as many more professional and collegiate athletes.”

The blog entry that SU’s tweet linked to is filled with similar punctuation and grammar errors. It claims “a source close to DYST Now” told the blogger that Syracuse has asked Boeheim to retire in the wake of another unsubstantiated rumor that Athletics Director Daryl Gross is meeting with the NCAA about violations related to last year’s team. At the end, it promises readers “We’ll have update you more as more of this story comes out.”

In other words, DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

But the fact that @SyracuseU tweeted a link to it threw a can of gasoline on the fire, leading to a report on Deadspin and likely countless other major sports reporting outlets. As Deadspin even notes, “Everything about this is weird, and the @SyracuseU tweet has since been deleted. The DYST Now page is certainly of questionable authority, but why did Syracuse link to it?”

The answer is that Syracuse University, like many other brands, lets students handle the brand’s official account. This is a mistake. A student made a similar mistake for the school when they tweeted about how excited they were to eat some Chick-fil-A over November break on @SyracuseU’s account. Not only is there no Chick-fil-A restaurant within 100 miles of Syracuse, N.Y., the chain also hasn’t been cast in a favorable light public relations-wise recently.

Basically, it happens when social media accounts are shared by multiple users, where people accidentally post stuff they meant to put on their personal account.

As public relations firm Tanner Friedman writes, “This trouble didn’t start at the moment of careless students tweeting. It started because our culture has anointed college students as ‘social media experts.'” Students should not be managing accounts that represent a professional brand, especially one that’s worth millions of dollars.

Of course professionals can make mistakes, too. Professionals are people, and “to err is human.” But when a mistake is made, a professional can correct it quickly and handle the ensuing PR crisis or face the risk of losing their job. If a student mis-tweets, they’re not going to be kicked out of school.

In conclusion, do not worry about Jim Boeheim. He’s leaving eventually, and Syracuse alumni and fans will have to deal with that, but not now. At the very least, the Orange have an NCAA Tournament to worry about first.

And if you need further reassurance, SU spokesman Pete Moore told the Syracuse Post-Standard it’s not true.

Update: A little more than two hours after the Twitter drama started, @SyracuseU posted an official statement: “#OrangeNation: Earlier tonight a tweet was mistakenly sent. Nothing in the tweet was true or accurate and we apologize for the confusion.”

Update No. 2: The gaffe has now become an Associated Press story, and the 19-year-old author of the blog post tells The Post-Standard he’s sticking by his report, claiming his unidentified source also proved to be right about Dion Waiters going pro.

Update No. 3: Some have told me they still believe students should manage the school’s official Twitter account, because they’re students and should be able to learn. My opinion? Let them create an account for a fake brand and learn that way. A brand’s official social media account is, in today’s world, the same as an official spokesperson or public relations director — which are never students. A professional can respond to the mistake faster and minimize the damage before a non-story becomes a story, and be held responsible whereas a student won’t be fired or expelled. And, again, this isn’t the first time this has happened. As TNIAAM points out, a @SyracuseU tweet in 2011 violated NCAA guidelines when they celebrated DaJuan Coleman coming to ‘Cuse before he had signed a letter of intent.

Lipreading Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim: My first feature article in The Post-Standard

Lipreading Jim Boeheim

A sneak preview of Geoff Herbert’s first feature article in The Post-Standard, appearing in print on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

“Wanna see my picture on the cover, wanna buy five copies for my mother…”

I recently began my new position as Entertainment Reporter at Syracuse Media Group, the new home of syracuse.com and The Post-Standard newspaper. I mainly focus on writing about hot topics that can include movies, music, television, celebrity gossip, technology news and Central New York life. On Friday, I wrote about something a little different that people have asked about many times so it seemed fitting to share:

#Lipreading Jim Boeheim: How Syracuse basketball gets even more fun on Twitter.”

While everything I write appears online at syracuse.com, I’m excited to say that the piece will also be appearing in print on Sunday, Feb. 10 — my first feature article in The Post-Standard!

I’ll be buying a few copies for family members (Look, mom! I have a job!) but I also recommend picking up one for yourself if you live in Central New York. Not only does it include great photos of the SU coach making his priceless facial expressions, but it’s also a lot better than the first two articles I wrote on syracuse.com in 2010 when I started as an Associate Producer.

Thank you to all for reading and supporting me, and a big thank you to my hundreds of new followers. I’m excited to share with you more lipreading tweets from upcoming Syracuse basketball games as well as stories, news and observations in 140 characters (or less). Let’s go Orange!

Divorced Syracuse basketball fan wants custody of kids for day of NCAA Championship if SU is playing

Divorced Syracuse basketball fan wants custody of kids for day of NCAA Championship if SU is playing

In a divorce agreement, a Syracuse basketball fan (like the one pictured above) wants custody of his kids for the day of the NCAA title game… if SU is playing.

As a child of divorce and a Syracuse University alumnus, I couldn’t help but share this story about a truly die-hard SU basketball fan.

An Illinois man, identified only as Michael by Yahoo! Sports’ The Dagger, has made an unusual (and awesome, if you’re a sports fan) request in his child custody agreement. After divorcing, his ex-wife requested custody of their son and daughter for several Jewish holidays, Thanksgiving and Labor Day.

Most other holidays, including the kids’ birthdays, are divided up evenly or shared but dad wants 7-year-old Julia and 5-year-old Liam every Easter, St. Patrick’s Day and the day of two sporting events: Super Bowl Sunday and the “NCAA Men’s Basketball Final until end of game if Syracuse is in.”

That’s right, the father is demanding custody of his children for the NCAA Championship game if Syracuse is playing for the men’s college basketball title. A screenshot of the agreement can be seen at Cuse Country.

“Even though Syracuse has only won the title once and it may not happen for another 20 years, it’s something that’s really important to me,” Michael told The Dagger. “It’s not a holiday exactly, but it is holy to me. Other people define themselves by their religion or race. Frankly, Syracuse sports, especially basketball, football and lacrosse, are a big part of my heritage.”

And even though he now lives 700 miles from Central New York, Michael says he continues to teach his children to root for Syracuse. He even dressed them in SU sports gear and watches Syracuse football and basketball games with them.

According to The Dagger, Michael never attended Syracuse University but grew up in Syracuse rooting for the Orange when they were still called the Orangemen. In grade school, he and his family gathered to watch former SU basketball stars like Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Billy Owens and Rony Seikaly.

Of course, the only time Syracuse won the Big Dance was against Kansas in 2003 under head coach Jim Boeheim, with current NBA all-star (and Team USA Olympic player!) Carmelo Anthony. However, Huffington Post notes that SU’s strong performance this past season and already high predictions for the 2012-13 season, Michael just might get to see his kids on the day of the next NCAA title game.

As a fellow fan who bleeds Orange, I always hope Syracuse’s sports teams win big so I’m rooting for Michael’s request. I was a freshman at the school when Hakim Warrick blocked the shot in the final seconds of the 2003 championship, so I got spoiled early. As someone whose own parents are divorced, I don’t see anything wrong with the agreement — unless it’s a nasty jab at his ex-wife for being a fan of one of SU’s rivals, like Georgetown, UConn or whoever will be next in the ACC… which would just makes it more awesome. Go SU!