SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Jim Boeheim's 39th season at Syracuse ended like no other - no postseason games.
And its troubles aren't over after a scathing NCAA report that imposed sanctions beyond a postseason ban the school volunteered for violations that lasted more than a decade under Boeheim. The 70-year-old Boeheim will be suspended for the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference season, a total of nine games.
The violations involved academic misconduct, extra benefits and the university's drug testing policy. Syracuse will also have three scholarships taken away for four seasons, while all wins will be vacated in which an ineligible player participated from 2004 through 2012.
Boeheim ranked second all-time in Division I with 966 victories before the report was released last week. The total number victories vacated could be as high as 108 - the school has vacated 24 - but appeals by Boeheim and the university are expected in the next week.
''Whatever happened, happened. It's out of our control,'' said senior Rakeem Christmas, the lone starter the Orange loses from a team that finished 18-13 overall and 9-9 in the ACC.
''I think it's a little harsh, to say the least, but I'm just glad they finally came out with something,'' said junior swingman Michael Gbinije, a transfer from Duke who is on target to complete his undergraduate work this semester and is expected to return for his final season of eligibility.
While Christmas, who averaged 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds, will be tough to replace, Syracuse is hopeful 6-foot-9 Dajuan Coleman can finally overcome injuries that sidelined him last season and most of the previous one. And 6-10 forward Chris McCullough, outstanding in the first 16 games of the 2014-15 season (9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game), is expected to be fully recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee suffered in January that forced him to miss the final 15 games of the season.
Shooting guard Trevor Cooney (13.4 points) and Gbinije (12.7) return seeking consistency. Both were erratic as the season wore down and their minutes didn't on a very short bench, though Gbinije was stellar in conference play until the Orange dropped four of their final five games. Gbinije, who often handled point guard duties in place of struggling freshman Kaleb Joseph, shot poorly in those games.
''I think we had more lows than highs, honestly,'' Gbinije said. ''At times, Rak (Christmas) played really good. At times, I had good games. But as a whole, we've just been so up and down and we can't be successful that way.''
A bright spot was the emergence of sophomore forward Tyler Roberson, who started 19 games and averaged 8.3 points 7.3 rebounds. Sophomore B.J. Johnson also showed he could hit the long ball, making four 3s against Boston College and three against Pitt, but he was a reluctant shooter at best. Joseph (5.9 points) needs more experience and confidence at both ends of the court. He wasn't ready to take over when Tyler Ennis left for the NBA after one season at Syracuse, and it showed (119 assists, 72 turnovers). Reserve guard Ron Patterson showed some defensive flair with 20 steals in limited play and had 49 assists with only 15 turnovers, but his long-range shooting was weak.
Though none of the current players was involved in the violations cited by the NCAA, they played the entire season knowing the report was coming.
''It was tough. I'm not going to lie,'' Cooney said. ''But you can't let stuff like that get to you.''
Boeheim has what is regarded as his best recruiting class in his four decades at his alma mater coming in - McDonald's All-Americans Malachi Richardson, Frank Howard, Tyler Lydon and Moustapha Diagne - and the loss of scholarships likely won't begin until after next season.
AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in North Carolina contributed to this report.
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