As we begin the top 20 of our SU Top 100 list, we are brought to another essential member of the 2003 NCAA Championship team. Just like #37 on our list, Gerry McNamara was an essential member of Jim Boeheim’s sole championship squad.
After unexpectedly becoming a starter as a freshmen in 2003, McNamara averaged over 13 points and four assists. Against Kansas in the Championship game, it was the young McNamara leading the way for the Orange in the first half with six three pointers, tying in NCAA record in the Championship game.
In his sophomore season, McNamara became a star for the Orange as he was named to the Big East third team. McNamara’s scoring jumped to over 17 points per game, and he shot the highest percentage from three in his career – almost 39 percent. With Carmelo Anthony off to the NBA, McNamara stepped into the role of a primary scorer.
As an upperclassmen, McNamara began to solidify his legacy at Syracuse. As a junior and senior McNamara was named to the All-Big East First Team. As a junior he averaged nearly 16 points and five assists.
Then in his senior year he had one of the best shooting streaks in Syracuse history. With NCAA Tournament qualification on the line, SU needed to do well in the Big East Tournament. In the first round against Cincinatti, the Orange needed a miracle as they trailed by two. Then McNamara’s clutch genes kicked in as he drove down court and hit a buzzer beating three to advance.
The next night against No. 1 Connecticut, McNamara’s theatrics continued. This time McNamara hit another three at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Syracuse wound up winning and advancing to play another bitter rival… Georgetown. The first half was bleak as the Hoyas lept out to a 15 point halftime lead. But in the second half it was the G-Mac show as the senior hit five threes, including one to tie the game with a minute left. Then as the clock dwindled down, the ball was once again in the hands of McNamara. He found Eric Devendorf on a game winning assist.
On the fourth night the Orange defeated Pitt to win the Big East Tournament. Of course, McNamara was named Big East Tournament MVP.
After McNamara suffered an injury against Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, Syracuse’s season ended unceremoniously. But G-Mac finished his career as an Orange legend and one of the clutchest players in program history.
He’s the best free throw shooter to ever play for Syracuse, hitting almost 89 percent from the charity stripe. McNamara’s also first overall in program history in threes made and minutes played. He’s the fourth all-time leading scorer, second in steals and third in assists.