New York

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on Benny Williams: ‘He hasn’t played the way he would like to’

SYRACUSE, NY — Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim stated that Benny Williams’ absence from SU’s game against Virginia was a matter of frustration and that he appeared normal when he returned to the team’s practice Wednesday.

Boeheim provided the information about Williams during an appearance on the Orange Nation radio show on ESPN Radio Syracuse on Thursday, his first comments since Williams was absent from Orange’s loss to UVA on Monday night.

Boeheim said Williams “took a personal day.”

Williams, who had been the starter in 20 of the 21 games he played that season, was replaced by Maliq Brown in the starting unit in the Orange’s previous game against Virginia Tech.

“(Williams) was in practice yesterday and looking good,” said Boeheim. “It’s always tough when you don’t play to your expectations or those of others. He didn’t play the way he would have liked and I think that bothers him. But he was in training and worked hard. He didn’t play like he thinks he can play and like we think he can play. But apart from that he was in training every day.”

Boeheim’s reaction to a reporter’s question about Williams’ status became the dominant story after the Orange played well and suffered a narrow loss to No. 4 Virginia on Monday.

Boeheim questioned a student reporter for asking about Williams as the first question of his post-game press conference.

It was the second game in a row that Boeheim’s sour behavior became a point of discussion at the post-game press conference.

Boeheim said he was traditionally in a bad mood after losses, and blamed part of the response on a faulty communication with the school’s sports information department.

Reporters were told Boeheim would address Williams’ absence after the game. Boeheim said he believed he had been told he was absent for personal reasons.

He criticized descriptions that his reply to the student reporter amounted to bullying.

“I thought, and it’s my fault, that it was announced before the game that Benny Williams wasn’t going to play for personal reasons,” Boeheim said. “When I got the question, I didn’t really understand it and didn’t want to elaborate on it. As I went along, I realized they didn’t know that, so I answered the question. It wasn’t a difficult question. It was actually a very simple question. I certainly haven’t bullied anyone. The reporter made a face and I commented. It’s an invention to call bullying. That didn’t happen. But I was more or less irritable.”

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