Syracuse Assistant Coaches All Too Familiar with March Madness

Syracuse returns to NCAA Tournament action on Friday night

CoachesAut&Griff
Syracuse assistant coaches Adrian Autry and Allen Griffin look on during a timeout. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

March Madness giveth. And March Madness taketh.

There is no spectacle in all of sports like the NCAA Tournament.

College kids can go from hero to goat in the span of 48 hours. Legends are born. Reputations are made. And dreams are crushed in the span of seconds.

Syracuse assistance coaches Adrian Autry, Allen Griffin, and Gerry McNamara are all familiar with the highs and lows brought about by three weekends in March.

Adrian Autry

During Autry’s illustrious Orange career, there is one NCAA game, and one play, that stands out.
The No. 4-seed Orange took on 1-seed Missouri in the Sweet 16 of the Western Regional in Los Angeles.

Though Syracuse dropped a heartbreaker, 98-88, in overtime, Autry was sensational in defeat.
He scored a game-high 31 points. Remarkably, they all came after halftime.

The senior guard made 10-of-21 shots, including 4-of-7 from three, while grabbing seven boards in 43 minutes. Part of his epic performance was the shot he sank from his knees while being fouled. Though, the refs waived it off and called the foul before the shot.

Autry was simply sensational, as Dick Vitale would say, on that LA evening. Sadly, the stunning loss ended his college career much in the same way his freshman NCAA Tournament experience began; with a soul-crushing defeat.

Autry also owns the infamous distinction of playing on the Syracuse team that lost to 15-seed Richmond.

The Orange suffered the humiliation of being the first 2-seed to ever lose to a 15-seed. Autry, a true freshman, scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds, and tallied nine assists in the loss.

Adrian Autry knows all too well about the madness of March.

Allen Griffin

Griffin never had that one bust-out NCAA game that elicits a stream of “remember whens” or etches him permanently into Syracuse lore. But he did have his moments.

During his junior year, Griffin notched 14 points in a Sweet 16 loss against eventual champion Michigan State. The Orange jumped out to a fast start that resulted in a 10-point halftime lead. Not only was Syracuse playing the 1-seed Spartans, but they were playing them in Detroit, of all venues. Not exactly a neutral site.

Michigan State showed why they were one of, if not the best teams in the country as they ran Syracuse off the floor in the second half to win 75-58.

Despite the loss, Griffin held his own and led the Orange in scoring while logging 32 minutes off the bench.

During his senior year, Griffin helped Syracuse avoid the dreaded 5-12 upset with 15 points and six assists against Hawaii. He also had three rebounds, two steals, was 6-of-8 at the free throw line while playing all 40 minutes. Syracuse’s season came to an end in the next round in an 87-58 loss to 4-seed Kansas.

» Related: Syracuse selected for NCAA Tournament as 11 seed

Gerry McNamara

Any Syracuse fan worth their salt – get it, salt?! – can tell you exactly where they were when Hakim Warrick crossed what seemed like half the court in about three steps to swat Michael Lee’s game-tying 3-point shot into the stands. Warrick’s blocked shot will live forever in March Madness lore.

But Warrick might not have had a chance to be a hero if it wasn’t for G-Mac’s hot hand.

Scranton’s Favorite Son came out of the gate firing. If the game were played at the OK Corral, McNamara wouldn’t have needed help from any of the Earp brothers. The freshman sank six – that’s right, count ‘em – six three-pointers in the first half.

McNamara didn’t score a point in the second half. But he did his damage and set the tone, along with that Carmelo Anthony guy, for Warrick and the Orange to vanquish the ghost of Keith Smart.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that one year later McNamara hung 43 points on BYU to avoid the dreaded 5-12 upset in the tournament’s opening round. His performance included an en fuego 9-of-13 from beyond the arc.

Smells like March Madness!

For the 11-seed Orange to advance against San Diego State on Friday evening, some Syracuse player will probably have a performance to remember.

Will Buddy Boeheim continue his hot streak from deep? Or maybe Alan Griffin – the player, not the coach – will dominate on both ends of the floor. Perhaps Quincy Guerrier will flex his way to a double-double? Or, Syracuse could get sent packing on a buzzer-beater.

March Madness giveth. And March Madness taketh.

Let the madness begin!

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About Steve Auger 116 Articles
Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. His work has been published on Care.com, Tom’s of Maine, Purina’s Petcentric.com and the Westford Patch. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. Follow him on Twitter @Corner_Cube.