‘I’m here to win’; Siena introduces Gerry McNamara

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — A new era of Siena men’s basketball has begun; Gerry McNamara was introduced as the team’s 19th head coach on Tuesday. The Syracuse basketball great is already providing a spark for a program that needs one.

“It’s a great day to be a Saint,” said McNamara. “I’m damn proud to be the coach here.”

A proud program has found a proud coach. “Siena and it’s fanbase and this area deserve more banners,” said athletic director John D’Argenio. “The team deserves more banners, everybody here deserves more banners and we think we found the person to help us do that.”

Gerry McNamara is one of those legendary college basketball names, especially in the state of New York. He starred at Syracuse as player from 2002-2006. As a freshman, he helped cut down the nets at the very arena he now calls home, then known as the Pepsi Arena, now the MVP Arena. He led the Orange to the Final Four and ultimately, the program’s lone national title.

“It’s kind of neat that my first opportunity as a head coach is in the building we played in to go to the Final Four and win a national championship,” said McNamara. “It’s really unique. I’m just blessed.”

Since then, McNamara has been on the bench for 15 years at Syracuse starting as a graduate assistant, then an assistant coach, elevating to associate head coach last season.

So why was now the time to leave? “There are so many aligning factors as far as how similar the programs are,” said McNamara. “I chose Syracuse because of all those family aspects. The community, the support that the program has. The reality is head coaching jobs for assistant coaches aren’t easy to get. This is a terrific job and I was in a position to obviously get this chance.”

Now the work begins, and the 40-year old acknowledged a lot of work needs to be done. The Saints are coming off a 4-28 season, and a host of players are in the transfer portal.

McNamara understands the importance of utilizing the portal, but also sees an opportunity to make an impact with his freshmen class. “At the power five level, you might be really talented and you come in and you might not play right away,” said McNamara. “You saw what happened to the really good young players in this league this year and what happens? They played well and what happens? Now they’re trying to go up. So the big thing is if you’re recruiting young freshmen, can you get them where they’re really, really talented where they could play at a Syracuse or a Big East school coming out of high school in the past where they probably would have stayed in the program and developed, can we get them here right away? And hey, you get a little bit of run as a freshman and play pretty darn well while you’re at it.”

McNamara also recognizes the impact of NIL on today’s recruiting landscape , but says it will never be the first conversation he has with a recruit. “I’m not going to sacrifice in terms of what I’ve always felt because I was in a program where it was all about tradition and history and you should have pride wearing the jersey,” said McNamara. “That’s still going to be the first conversation I have with these guys. Obviously you’re going to get further down the line in terms of relationship and eventually that conversation is going to happen like, ‘Hey this is great, I really like you guys but what are we looking like?’ So it’s something we’re obviously going to address and I’ll do everything I can to elevate the profile of it.”

No matter the obstacles, McNamara made his mission clear. “You know why I’m here. Anyone that knows me knows why I’m here. I’m here to win. Simple. That’ who I am. I am here to win. It’s all I’ve ever tried to do as a coach, a player. Every day I walk in the gym it’s with the intent to work to win.”

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