It's unusual at that time freshmen haven't carried a team like that
Nowadays it's not unusual but, at that time, to have two freshmen carry your team to the national championship, was special.
First school that was recruiting me was Syracuse.
Carmelo Anthony, I went to see when he was a junior. I rarely go out
during the year but my assistant, Troy Weaver, said "you know
Coach, you gotta come, see this kid."
I was about to go to the athletic director like, we need a private plane 'cause
we need to get him down to see this game.
Once I saw Boeheim come to Baltimore, came to my neighborhood, I just felt like it was a realness
there like, I feel like, I owed him something.
Throughout the course of the day in school is like, oh?
Syracuse was coming to the game, Boeheim was coming to the game, so I'm like, oh?
Tonight's the night! So the game starts
And he comes down he hits a three then he went by that guy, and pulled up and hit about a 15 footer then
He came, back and he stole the ball, he went down
and dunked on two guys and i turned to Troy, my assistant, i said, well why weren't we down here before this yeah
He looked at me like you got me seeing all these other guys, this is the best player in the country
So he had said to me this guy could help us win the National Championship
I said i think you might be right you know. He's, he's that good
and turned out to be a good, one of my few good predictions.
The first time i had met Melo was at ABCD Camp. i just watched him play against Lenny Cooke
who was, who was, you know, probably you know by most
recruiting analysts the number one player in the country and i watched Melo do what he does and i was immediately blown away.
We knew with Gerry and Carmelo coming in we had two great freshmen.
i remember how well he was shooting the basketball and i'm like, holy this is the guy
that's going to Syracuse. Like this little short, white guy
going Syracuse, this is gonna be my point guard. The first time playing pickup over on campus as a group at
Syracuse i remember calling my father and said the real deal, he's the real deal
We rarely win in the tournament and we barely beat Manhattan, a good Manhattan team.
And then we played Oklahoma State, we're down 16 first half
Going into halftime Boeheim and there he is doing his spiel, he's yelling and breaking
chalkboards and TVs. Then we came out and we won that game.
Then from there like our confidence just grew.
We been dreaming about this since day one, well we've been saying out front, we can't do it we took this dance to the final four
We went to the Final Four thinking if we're gonna win this this is, this is our time to do it.
They had the defensive player of the year playing him with Carmelo. He just was unstoppable and we needed every bit of it
Hakim Warrick makes an unbelievable play, along the baseline off a loose ball
Not gonna mention what the dunk is referred to
Royal Ivey i talked trash on him all day about that. When we first traded for Melo
that was the first thing he pointed out like, Skinny got you
Once he got that dunk it was like
we took their soul and we took their heart like you felt it, you felt it leave. That dunk kind of took us to a
whole another level at that game
After the Texas game i didn't sleep that night. The next day that Sunday i've been walking outside on Bourbon street
Just seeing everything just taking it all in and go back
and can't sleep
the night before the National Championship game, wake up in the morning, no pregame nap. i was just at an all-time high.
I've never been that excited before but at ease too even though i didn't have sleep i was
like let's get this game going. i saw in the locker room before
he was really excited
but he wasn't anyway nervous which you don't expect that from a freshmen.
You know Boeheim at that point in time he was you know National Championship he'd been there before
with Indiana when Keith Smart hit that shot. He was pacing around and he just wasn't himself and i went up to him i'm like coach
Don't worry we got this, we goin' to get this done. Carmelo had told me before the game not to worry
He had it that we [mumbling] we've got it coach
He came to me before the game it was like i'm feeling it tonight, that's all he said i feel it tonight
he hit the first one from deep
Then he hit another one from deep and he looked at me i told you
Then they went zone and when they went zone my
eyes lit up 'cause i know i could stretch the defense
then he crossed him shot from half-court, Son like, what you shooting that for that's too far.
That was the feel good shot. That was the, i made a few.
And Boeheim was always there. Gerry you don't shoot that you don't shoot that you know in
a Boeheim voice and then when he make it yeah, good job Gerry
Outside fire gets it off the shot
it's the only time in my, life, that i ran aimlessly i
Where i was going?
they're Just pure elation and i remember
Melo being on the bottom of that pile and it wasn't it wasn't him
Celebrating with him and agonizing pain because so many guys are on top of him i remember
Saying it before the game so i said if we win like i do not, want to be on the bottom of the power
Understand it we all you know, we all laughing it just so happened i'm gonna, bomb one of time but
Like that moment i could see, why, jerry always chasing that because that's the best feeling that they, don't come around
Coach, was so closed a few times? And there's so many great players that that was as rewarding as?
Anything, was was to win it for coach
When you're, not ranked preseason and you can get the final four would have been a
Heck of the year but to win it to see them celebrate, was was was great?
We never believed that
We had a shot so for us to come in as freshmen to winning it all like denman to la
I think that made that year a little bit more special