Syracuse University football.
Quick, what are your thoughts? One of the Orangemen legends pop to mind? Maybe the Dome itself? Hell, you may even still have thoughts of Greg Robinson and the bottoming out of the program. But I'm betting at some point, somewhere in your cerebrum, number 44 pops up when you think of Syracuse University football. The big jersey hanging, the yardline denoting all the past, the statue to Ernie Davis; tradition.
While Syracuse University football has been inconsistent at best for the last 10 to 15 years, administrators have done their best to make sure you remember the past. Remember, Syracuse University football used to conjure thoughts of winning.
And to keep the tradition of reminding you all of its tradition, the school is looking at adding more statues. It would all coincide perfectly with the university unveiling a brand new, $17 million, practice facility. Get it? Here's a bridge to the future, but don't forget where we've been! Which is the right move. The football program desperately needs major upgrades to its facilities and adding in statues to the area will only help in remind deep-pocketed (older) boosters of the winning past. Not to mention it will provide an area for fans to hand out in and explore.
(Of course, like Brent Axe writes, the school/program may be going a bit overboard on its honoring the era of Jim Brown, Davis, and Floyd Little. As Brent points out, there are plenty of other impact players to celebrate that actually played at SU in the last couple of decades. Maybe throwing them a bone wouldn't be so bad?)
But what about basketball?
I know, I know, Syracuse has done more halftime ceremonies than just about anyone. Respect the past, the Orange hoops program has that down cold. Be it retiring the jerseys of players long since dead, or finally honoring the school's all-time leading scorer (Lawrence Moten is set to watch his jersey go up to the rafters this coming season), you can't really avoid the past when it comes to hoops.
Yet, there is no statue out front of the Dome, or the now hoops-defunct Manley Field House, or even the shinny new Carmelo K. Anthony Center. Football has Davis, Brown, Little, and the likes of Art Monk or even Donovan McNabb to pick from, basketball has a lot more choices to make a Monument Park of sorts, doesn't it?
And that's where the fun part would start. Syracuse basketball is Syracuse Basketball because of James Arthur Boeheim. He's been there for it all, including a jump to the Big East and now the jump to the ACC, along with leaving Manley for the Dome, and taking the program from regional to national in every sense of the word. Plus, 920 victories ain't bad, either.
Jim Boeheim is the first and only choice.
Of course, there's usually a grace period for that type of honor (see: State, Penn). So if you give a little separation, let's say ten years removed from the program, you obviously would have to wait on Boeheim if SU was going to make a basketball statue. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other very worthy choices.
Here we go:
- Dave Bing - Now most Orange basketball fans know him as Boeheim's friend and old teammate, but Bing was one of the best basketball players, ever. Bing led SU in scoring all three seasons and left SU as the all-time leader in points scored. Without Bing it's safe to say later successes, including those of Coach Boeheim, would probably not have have happened.
- Dwayne "Pearl" Washington - A playground legend coming to Syracuse right when the Big East started taking off. Pearl was Boeheim's first recognizable recruit and a flashy point guard ESPN marketed against Georgetown's brick-wall in Patrick Ewing.
- Derrick Coleman - One of the most dominating power forwards to ever play college basketball. Sure his NBA career never took off, but by the time DC graduated, he held just about every school and conference record. (Remember that missed free throw in '87 that could have led to Syracuse's first national championship? Well, don't forget that the then freshmen also grabbed 19 rebounds!)
- Sherman Douglas - The General didn't invite the ally-opp, he just perfected it! Douglas was the leader of some of Syracuse's most exciting teams. He was flash like Peal, but more complete of a point guard. When Douglas left Syracuse he left with Bing's scoring title in hand.
- Roosevelt Bouie/Louie Orr - "The Bouie N Louie Show" took center stage at the Zoo known as Manley Field House at the same time Boeheim took over as coach. While Pearl may have been the future Hall of Famers biggest early get, the fact that Bouie and Orr agreed to come on board with a young and inexperienced Boeheim proved to be instrumental in paving the way for Syracuse to jump into the national spotlight years later. The two classmates helped Syracuse win 100 games over a four year span, unheard of for the program at the time.
- Carmelo Anthony - Just barely making the cut (ten year buffer), Anthony was Mr. Everything for Syracuse's only national championship team. Not to mention, Anthony was a dominating freshmen, pouring in 33 points in the '03 national semis and nearly pulling off a triple-double in the championship win over Kansas.
OK, so that's my list of potential statue candidates for basketball. I'm sure there are a lot more worthy contenders out there, including Vic Hanson (SU's first legit star) and Wilmeth Sidat-Singh (a pioneer for the school and the region). But I wanted to narrow down the field to what I considered true program-changers, players who transformed team and school.
Now you're probably asking, What about Lawrence Moten? A great question. The school's all-time leading scorer didn't make my list, but only because I wouldn't take someone off of it to add him. Moten was a silky-smooth scorer who helped Syracuse weather the probation era of the mid-90's, but, even with the scoring record in hand, I don't think he changed the program in a way like Pearl or Coleman, etc.
Again, that doesn't mean Moten really isn't worthy, or that there aren't more worthy contenders. Actually, please feel free to leave your suggestions below. Or, seeing as how the ceremonies at Syracuse have become something of the Fonz on a motorcycle approaching a tank full of sharks, you may be against the idea entirely.
Still, no matter the sport, you're usually a fan of a team based on what's happened in the past. And ultimately, there's no better way than to be reminded of a program's significance to you and thousands of fans than by seeing its history documented.