Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara recalls ‘incredible environment’ in Albany in 2003

0

ALBANY — Syracuse men’s basketball assistant coach Gerry McNamara was honored on Thursday at Albany Capital Center, just a short walk uphill from where he helped the Orange reach the Final Four as a player 19 years ago.

McNamara starred as a freshman guard on the 2003 Syracuse team, which beat Auburn in the Sweet 16 and Oklahoma in the Elite Eight in front of orange-clad sellout crowds at MVP Arena (then Pepsi Arena) to earn a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans.

Syracuse, which also had one-and-done future NBA star Carmelo Anthony, then knocked off Texas and Kansas in the Big Easy to win its first national championship.

McNamara, back in town to receive the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs. Cancer Basket “Ball,” recalled the home-court advantage the Orange had in Albany.

“The crowd,” McNamara said. “The fact that as soon as the bracket came out that year, we knew we were going to be in the East Region if we advanced to the Sweet 16, coming here. We knew that would be a big advantage for us. We obviously have an incredible fan base. I just remember the chants, ‘Let’s go Orange’ here. Incredible environment. I remember the Oklahoma game, kind of pulling away fairly easily in the second half (to a 63-47 win) and kind of like the last six or seven minutes of that game, knowing as it’s ticking away that you’re about to go to a Final Four. Very few feelings like it.”

The NCAA Tournament returns to MVP Arena in March for the first time since 2003 with first- and second-round games.

McNamara, 39, is entering his 12th season as an assistant under Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, the Hall of Famer who recruited McNamara out of Scranton, Pa., and coached him while McNamara scored 2,099 career points and became a fan favorite.

Could McNamara eventually be the successor to Boeheim, 77, who’s entering his 47th season leading Syracuse? Boeheim told ESPN Radio in Syracuse last March there’s “a plan in place” for his retirement and successor. He declined to say when he’ll retire or who his replacement will be. He said he’ll have some input in the process but would not have the final say.

“I think that’s something he’s obviously got to clarify to a lot of people before I’m certainly going to be sharing his plan,” McNamara said Thursday. “He’s got to clarify that, not me.”

McNamara acknowledged he’s thought about someday leading the program.

“I mean, sure, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” McNamara said. “I love Syracuse. I’m very confident in what I bring to the table and my knowledge,  more so than anything the work ethic. I love Syracuse. I’ve been so blessed to raise my four children there, win a national championship, be to multiple Final Fours. It’s given me so many great memories … That’s the goal, is to be a head coach, and yeah, I love Syracuse as much as anybody can.”

Syracuse associate head coach Adrian Autry, a former Orange player also entering his 12th season as an assistant, is another obvious in-house candidate.

The Orange, coming off a 16-17 season, have a cast that includes senior guard Joe Girard III of Glens Falls, who averaged 13.8 points per game last season.

“I love working with (Girard),” McNamara said. “I love being around him. I love his energy. I can see his rejuvenation. He’s really excited about this upcoming year and he’s worked really hard to put himself in position to have a great one.”

McNamara talked about the significance of receiving the Inspiration Award. He said his family has been touched by cancer in the past three years.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve been a part of Coaches vs. Cancer events since I came to Syracuse and coach Boeheim got me involved with that as a player. … These matter. These make a huge difference. The advancements are where we’re headed and the difference it can make and the amount of money that’s raised and it gets in the right hands.”

McNamara said Boeheim’s contributions to fighting cancer outweigh anything he’s accomplished on the basketball court.

Also honored on Thursday was the American Cancer Society’s Anthony Marino, executive vice president of the Northeast Region, who got the Champion of Hope Award. Marino founded the Basket “Ball” after seeing McNamara speak at an event in Syracuse. The Basket “Ball” has since raised more than $2.5 million over 17 years.

Tamarac students Evan Franz and Joseph Carista shared the Fighting Spirit Award for their ongoing battles against cancer.

FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS

 

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Vigour Times is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment
Enable Notifications OK No thanks