Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
All-Timer Carmelo Anthony
Jim Boeheim had never been fond of "one-and-doners." That all changed in 2003
Carmelo Anthony is the poster boy for being able to succeed with a great player only in college for one year. He put the young Syracuse team on his back and took them all the way.
They were terrific that year, finishing 30-5 and 13-3 in the Big East. That team may have been the one that established the now well-known fact that Syracuse's zone is so tough because of their unbelievable length and athleticism.
Bookend 6'8" forwards Anthony and Hakim Warrick were just so big and covered more ground than anyone had seen before. 6'6" Kueth Duany was so hard to shoot over at the top of the zone.
The 2003 team could run like all Syracuse teams before it, with 7' center Craig Forth joining Warrick and Anthony as outstanding rebounders who could start the break. Duany, Warrick and Anthony did a great job of getting out and filling the lane for layups and dunks.
Not only could this team run, but they also could shoot the basketball. While there's no disputing how great freshman Anthony was, had he not been on the team, another youngster would have gotten much more publicity.
Gerry McNamara came to Syracuse along with Anthony. McNamara could fill it up from three, hitting 35.7 percent that year while averaging 13.3 points. He played like a senior the second he stepped on the floor.
It was a great run through the NCAA tournament for the Orangemen. They beat Manhattan and Auburn in addition to Big 12 teams Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in advancing to the Final Four.
There they met another Big 12 team in the semifinals, the Texas Longhorns. Carmelo's 33 points led the way as Syracuse moved on to the championship game.
Another Big 12 team, Kansas, was waiting for the Orangemen. The game was in the Superdome in New Orleans, the same arena that saw Keith Smart hit from the corner to beat Syracuse in 1987.
As the clock wound down, Syracuse held a three-point lead as Michael Lee rose to shoot a three from virtually the same spot that Smart shot from. Here's where the legend of length and athleticism took hold.
Warrick was in the middle of the lane when the ball swung to Lee. He got out to the corner in a flash, rose and blocked the shot.
Anthony was the Final Four Most Outstanding Player and most amazing freshman ever to play in the tournament. But...
Fellow frosh Gerry McNamarra was 6-of-6 from behind the arc in the first half of that game. Let me say that again. McNamarra made six threes in the first half of the national championship game as a true freshman. A game won by three points.
Are you kidding me?
That's why the 2003 team gets my vote as best ever.
Follow me on Twitter @sprtsramblngman