Gerry McNamara Reflects On Syracuse's 2003 National Title

McNamara hit nine three-pointers in the 2003 Final Four, including six in Syracuse's national championship win against Kansas

The DA Show
April 03, 2020 - 11:18 am

When you think of Syracuse’s 2003 run to the national championship, perhaps you think of Carmelo Anthony’s brilliant season-long play. Or perhaps you think of Hakim Warrick’s game-saving block on Kansas’ Michael Lee in the closing seconds of the title game.

But you can’t forget about Gerry McNamara’s hot shooting. The freshman guard drilled six – six! – three-pointers in Syracuse’s 81-78 win over the Jayhawks.

“It’s a good feeling,” McNamara said on The DA Show, recalling his performance. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s a good feeling. It’s just one of those halves where you find a little bit of room. I made six; there was probably two that weren’t high-quality shots. But because of the rhythm of the game and because you’ve hit a few, you take one because you know if you get a look it’s going in. But that was the mentality.”

Syracuse went 30-5 that season. After losing to Connecticut in the Big East Tournament, Syracuse reeled off six straight NCAA Tournament wins, beating Manhattan, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. McNamara hit three three-pointers against Texas, averaging 18.5 points in the Final Four.

“The great thing for me all these years back is looking at pictures of my family in New Orleans,” McNamara said. “It really is. Of all the things that happened, looking at pictures – I’ve got my family, instead of their horns up, they’re doing horns down after we beat Texas. The reason I love looking at the pictures is because I didn’t see anybody [during the Final Four]. Our focus was so intent on being there for the reason to win it that I literally didn’t spend time with my family. It was go to practice, go to shoot-around, go to the game and then I’d be right back to my room or team meal – and that was it. 

“So to get to experience the Final Four through their eyes of what happened to them and their experience, to me, it was a great part,” McNamara continued. “It makes it worth it how you can seclude yourself and isolate yourself to accomplish the thing that you’re there to accomplish. You put all your focus into that moment, and to capitalize on it because of that isolation and blinders on, I felt like that group was able to – and me individually, I was able to – capitalize on my moment because I had been preparing for it. That’s what I was there to do. That’s what I was focused on.”

Anthony averaged 26.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in New Orleans and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. But without McNamara’s hot shooting, the Orange don’t win the title.

“It was just an opportunity of a lifetime to try to go out there and make something happen on the big stage, and I was fortunate to do that,” McNamara said. “I felt like I had prepared both physically and mentally to be there.”