UNC Asheville coach says his was the better team against Syracuse

Graham Watson

The battle between Syracuse and North Carolina Asheville didn't end on the floor when the final horn sounded.

"I thought we had a cooling-off period," UNC Asheville coach Ed Biedenbach said to open his postgame press conference. "There's not enough time for cooling off for this one."

Syracuse escaped becoming the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed with a 72-65 win, but it wasn't without some controversial officiating. Two missed calls — a goaltending on a Jeremy Atkinson shot that should have been an "and-one" and an out-of-bounds call that went the wrong direction with 34 seconds remaining and the 'Cuse up three — had Biedenbach steaming after the game and questioning who the better team was in the game despite the result.

"I'd like to ask the gentleman from Syracuse a question. You ask what we did to hang around," Biedenbach asked a reporter. "I want to read your article tomorrow and see what Syracuse did to get back in it when we were up seven, when we were up four. I'll be very interested to read about what you have to say.

"I have all the respect for Jim Boeheim, their team being 31‑2. He's a fantastic coach.  They deserve all the recognitions they've got this year.  [UNC Asheville] was the better team tonight."

Of course Boeheim, never one to shy away from a war of words, didn't appreciate Biedenbach's insinuation that Syracuse didn't earn the win and perhaps had a little help from the men in stripes.

"That's why they make scoreboards," Boeheim said.

All that matters to Syracuse is that it's moving on. Biedenbach's complaints, while warranted, might resonate with those who saw the same officiating atrocities, but it isn't going to get the Bulldogs back in the tournament. It's just a shame that a good game - a competitive game - wasn't totally decided by the players.

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