GMac's Place In Orange Shooting Back
Bob Snyder , Syracuse Post Standard

You can describe Gerry McNamara in many ways.

Pugnacious. Scrappy. Hustling. Fan-favorite.

A captain who really is THE leader on the court.

Positive attributes, for sure.

But the 22-year-old son of Gerry and Joyce who may be Scranton's most celebrated citizen is, above all, a jump shooter.

Long range, beyond the arc.

McNamara's band has followed him everywhere. And if you think the Dome rocked for Melo's finale in 2003, you ain't heard nothin' yet.

Wait 'til noon Sunday, March 5. When G-Mac says goodbye, the decibel level will be off the charts. McNamara may not be the greatest to ever play here, but he is the most adored. And the kid can shoot.

Best long-range shooter ever on the Hill?

"He ranks right up there," said Jim Boeheim, not wishing to compare generations of fine shooters.

The record book spills out statistics. But numbers can deceive.

Debating long-range shooters? That's difficult tougher than knocking down a trey from the collegiate arc.

For purposesof discussion, to bridge the generation gap you must stub your toe on the 3-point line.

Just as there was Orange hoops before Boeheim, so there were great shooters prior to the NCAA instituting the arc for the '86-87 season. Those dinosaurs who knocked down the "deep 2" would have tacked on another point for every long jumper made.

McNamara's status among elite Orange shooters is secure because he's made so many big 3's and since Anthony was a one-year wonder has had precious little perimeter-shooting support the past two seasons.

Will 2005-06 be different? It must, if the Orange is to factor in the Big East title chase and be an NCAA entry of note.

So how does Mac stack up with the best, pre- and post-arc?

This observer still feels the best was Greg Kohls, who scored all but 38 of his 1,360 career points in his last two seasons (1970-72), during which he averaged 22.0 and 26.7 points.

Only the nonpareil Dave Bing averaged more in any season (28.4 in 1965-66). Bing was all things for SU scorer, rebounder, distributor. But a great long-range shooter he was not.

Chronologically, top guns from deep were George Hicker, "Kid" Kohls, Jimmy "Ratman" Lee, Matt Roe, Marius Janulis, Preston Shumpert and G-Mac.

Curiously, Greg Monroe holds the SU career record for 3-point percentage at 43.9. That's what he shot as a senior in 1986-87, when SU went to the NCAA final.

But as Roe put it, "I had to guard him every day in practice. Never knew where his shot was coming from. It had no arc."

Did G-Mac model his shot after anyone?

"You shoot enough, you're going to develop your own shot. That's what I did," he said. "Me and my dad would just shoot after practice."

But he's altered his shot.

"I actually changed going into my freshman year, because I used to shoot from down low. I had to make an adjustment," G-Mac said. "I didn't want to get stripped a lot."

Best clotheslinejumper was Kohls' and he was ready to fire once over midcourt.

"My junior year I had Smitty (6-11 Bill Smith) underneath. That was like McNamara's freshman year with Carmelo," Kohls said.

Most of the premier perimeter shooters on the Hill have had scoring threats to keep defenses from double-teaming them.

Sure, Mac had Hak. But Hakim Warrick's game was around the basket, not the perimeter.

Can McNamara get enough open looks, decreasing the number of shots he has had to force with the clock running down?

Understand, those are not necessarily bad shots. Just the best the offense has wound up with.

"It's better that McNamara forces a shot than somebody who can't throw it in the ocean," Kohls said.

"He's as good a perimeter shooter as I've seen," Hicker said of McNamara,

"Best?" Roe wondered. "I'd say Shumpert. Me, when I played I got a lot of free looks."

Playing with, Rony Seikaly, Derrick Coleman, Stevie Thompson, Billy Owens and Sherman Douglas, Roe just ran to the open spot and waited for an opportunity.

He delivered: His 43.3 remains the best among SU's 12 most prolific 3-point shooters. He was 44.0 as a two-year regular, before exiting to Maryland.

"A kid wanting to try the NBA," Roe said of transferring. "Gotta live with it."

Roe describes G-Mac as "Scott Skiles with a jump shot."

All the shooters agree McNamara cannot do it on his own.

"A Billy Edelin and I'm not going there! but he needs someone to get him the ball," Roe said.

Kohls wondered,"Is anyone going to step up to help him? . . . This year, we're going to find out how good he REALLY is!"

"He tends to wear down the last few minutes of a game and end of season," Hicker said. "And he is asthmatic. That necessitates needing to get a breath once in a while."

"I felt bad for him last year," Lee said. "He got the hell beat out of him. When he was open, defenses hadn't been doing their job."

Again this season, defenses will make G-Mac work hard to get open. Without help from his friends, too often he won't.

And with help?

"He'll have a lot better year," Lee said, "as long as he gets somebody to step up."

What about G-Mac the shooter as a pro prospect?

"He's going to play somewhere, on his guile alone," Hicker said.

"I think he'll make it," Roe said. "If Steve Kerr can . . ."

"It's a matter of getting on the right team," Lee said, "like a John Paxson with the Bulls."

Roe spoke for pure shooters when he said of McNamara, "He can miss 20 shots and still hit the big one. Some shooters get mental about missing; he'll keep firing."

They all love watching G-Mac play the game. But who's best?

On behalf of ol' shooters, Lee whose jumper sunk North Carolina on the Road to the '75 Final Four said:

"You'll never get anybody to outshoot me. And Kohls will say the same thing (about himself)."

Ol' shooters never die, they just fade away. Nothin' but net!

© 2005 The Post-Standard.