There have been quite a few surprises during my three seasons on the SU women's basketball beat.
- Dramatic game-winning shots.
- Crushing injuries.
- Record-breaking success.
But, perhaps, the most surprising moment came on Sunday, the final home game of the season and my final time covering a game at the Carrier Dome as a member of the student media.
That's when Quentin Hillsman, jokingly, offered me a job...with SU Athletics.
"I'm hiring you."
You see, he realizes that his team's three-game winning streak isn't from anything he's doing. It's because of me.
His junior guard, Brianna Butler, has shot at a lower percentage this season than either of her first two at Syracuse. She's been the target of quite a bit of media scrutiny this year. Part of that is because Butler is on pace to shatter an SU record for shot attempts in a season, despite holding one of the lowest field goal percentages on the team.
Hillsman, meanwhile, has routinely fielded questions on her struggles and whether she shoots too much.
Over the past three games though, Butler has averaged an impressive 20.0 points.
"You are the reason," Hillsman told me last week. "Player development."
"I'm yelling at her more now because you guys keep asking me the same question," Hillsman said. "I tell her that I'm tired of answering the same questions. So now she's taken care of me a little bit."
Butler continued to play well on Sunday by scoring 19 points on five 3's and chipping in three rebounds. Syracuse beat the Pittsburgh Panthers by a score of 68-54 in the Carrier Dome. The crowd went crazy when Butler converted a picturesque 3-pointer from the right corner. It extended Syracuse's lead to 13 with just over two minutes left and the Orange went on to win the third game in a row.
"You're doing an excellent job with Brianna Butler," Hillsman said. "She's made eleven 3's over the last two games. Man, you're getting it done. Keep doing what you're doing. She's tearing it up man."
That's when I let him know about my upcoming graduation so he would have time to start grooming my replacement.
That left him no choice. He couldn't let me leave, even if it meant having one of his toughest critics becoming part of his own staff.
"One more year, man."
Is it paid?
"Volunteer for sure."
An intriguing offer, no question.
It won't pay well but, hey, it will be a nice raise over what Keeley is paying us.