Syracuse Basketball: Gerry McNamara's top moments at 'Cuse as a player and coach

We delve into the top moments for Gerry McNamara as a Syracuse basketball star player and assistant coach over the years.
We delve into the top moments for Gerry McNamara as a Syracuse basketball star player and assistant coach over the years. / Craig Jones/GettyImages

When you think of the storied history of the Syracuse basketball program, there are a few legendary names that come to mind, and one of them is undoubtedly Gerry McNamara.

The scrappy guard from Scranton, Pa., is beloved by Orange Nation for what he did as a player on the Hill, and then also for what he did on the bench as a 'Cuse full-time assistant coach for the past 13 years, including the 2023-24 term as the team's associate head coach.

Last Friday, GMac was officially named the new head coach of Siena, a school in Loudonville, N.Y., near Albany that resides in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ("MAAC"). While Orange fans are sad to see McNamara move on, his ultimate goal was to become a head coach.

Now he is, and the vast majority of Syracuse basketball fanatics are simultaneously sad to see him go, but also extremely happy for Gerry (myself included).

During his tenure on the Hill, first as a player and then as an assistant coach, McNamara was involved in many beautiful, exciting and wonderful moments with the Orange program, and I'm discussing some of them here. This list below isn't meant to be fully exhaustive, but it does provide a snapshot of just how awesome McNamara is, and how important he's proven to the 'Cuse dating back to the early 2000s.

Here are some of the top moments for Gerry McNamara as a Syracuse basketball player and coach.

Player (2002–2006)
2002-03 season
McNamara, as a freshman, played a key role as the No. 3 seed Orange won the program's first and only national championship; in the NCAA Tournament final game against No. 2 seed Kansas, he connected on six 3-pointers in the first half

2003-04 season
As a sophomore, and with star player Carmelo Anthony having moved on to the NBA, McNamara helped lead the 'Cuse on another run in the Big Dance; Syracuse basketball, a No. 5 seed, would reach the Sweet 16; in the round of 64 versus No. 12 seed BYU, McNamara connected on a ridiculous nine shots from long range and finished with 43 points

The Orange would also make the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2006, but in both of those Big Dances, the 'Cuse was upset in the round of 64.

In the 2005-06 stanza, McNamara carried Syracuse basketball to four consecutive wins to capture the Big East Conference Tournament crown and earn a bid to March Madness. It was during that Big East tourney that then-head coach Jim Boeheim conducted arguably his most famous press conference ever, defending GMac after he was deemed overrated in a poll of anonymous assistant coaches.

In his illustrious playing career in Central New York, McNamara was named an All-Big East Conference performer multiple times. He's No. 4 on the Orange's all-time career scoring list. He's also the 'Cuse all-time leader in free-throw shooting percentage and 3-point shots made.

If that wasn't enough, McNamara ranks third all-time in program history in career assists and second in career steals.

Coach (2011-2024, as a full-time assistant)
2011-12 season
The Orange went 30-1 in the regular season, 34-3 overall, held the No. 1 national ranking and advanced to the Elite Eight

2012-13 season
'Cuse went 30-10 overall and journeyed to the Final Four, led by a stifling defense that crushed both No. 1 seed Indiana in the Sweet 16 and No. 3 seed Marquette in the Elite Eight

2013-14 season
Syracuse basketball set a program record by starting out this term at 25-0, and it held the No. 1 national ranking

2015-16 season
As a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Orange went on a magical run to the Final Four, including an improbable comeback against top-seeded Virginia in the Elite Eight

2017-18 season
A No. 11 seed in the Big Dance, Syracuse basketball got to the Sweet 16, buoyed by an upset of No. 3 seed Michigan State in the round of 32

2020-21 season
Again a No. 11 seed in March Madness, the Orange picked off No. 3 seed West Virginia in the round of 32 to make the Sweet 16

Over his years as a Syracuse basketball assistant, McNamara was known as a terrific recruiter who helped bring numerous talented high school prospects into the program.

Focused on the Orange's guards, GMac shined in player development, working with talented guards such as Tyler Ennis, Tyus Battle, Michael Gbinije, Michael Carter-Williams, Elijah Hughes and Dion Waiters, among many others.

It's been one heck of a run, Gerry. I'll miss you dearly, I can't thank you enough for what you've done for Syracuse basketball, and I have every confidence that you will thrive as Siena's head coach.

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