The Top 10 CNY Sports Stories EVER! – Syracuse: NCAA Champs, At LAST!
The year: 2003, the uniforms: orange, the fans: orange, the other team: is going to get rocked, up for grabs : the NCAA national title. But first, a little backstory...
Syracuse basketball as we know it was birthed about 40 years ago when an unsuspecting S.U. sophomore by the name of Dave Bing (who would later become an NBA Hall-of-famer) and another equally unsuspecting teammate would share glory together as they made it to their second ever NCAA appearance back in 1966. Bing's teammate was none other than Jim Boeheim. Little did Jim know that he would be coaching the team only ten years later.
Under Jim's coaching, The Orange would add 29 more NCAA tournament appearances to the 6 they ended up racking up before that, 4 of which were to the final-four and of those 4, Syracuse would make it to the championship game 3 times, falling short twice and then finally being crowned the victors on that April day.
Two days earlier Syracuse had just beaten the #1 seeded Texas team with some spot-on foul shooting, so the guys were all amped up to finally add a championship to their trophy case. But their Kansas opponents were also pretty energized beating the Maquette Golden Eagles by a whopping 33 points and just like Syracuse had never won a title before. Now, the stage was set for the big dance! Here's the game-starting tip-off:
Syracuse came right out of the gate shooting like crazy and easily bested the Jayhawks for the first half. Kansas came back in the second half (probably due to a huge locker-room pep talk) and put themselves to within two points of Syracuse's lead with just a minute to go in the game. It's likely that the young men in orange were sweating like crazy as a player in white walked to the free-throw line. If he sunk both shots the game would be tied. But thankfully for Syracuse, he missed both. Syracuse grabs another point in the ensuing seconds and then Kansas lets a last-ditch three-pointer fly with less than a second to go in the game that could've tied it up again, but the ball ended up sailing over the net (AIR BALL!) to clinch the win for Syracuse at 81-78. Twenty of those points belonged to Carmelo Anothony who now plays for the NBA with the New York Knicks. He was named the most outstanding player at this game and can be seen below cutting the ritual net:
After a 46 year hunt, Jim Boeheim finally laid fingers on that trophy as he and his team were officially crowned the champions that we all knew they were. If you didn't fly down to Louisiana for the game, check out the video below to get a feel for the emotion involved with this close contest!