Wilson: Ennis’ buzzer-beater to edge Pittsburgh is greatest shot in Syracuse history

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ PITTSBURGH — Those final moments were a blur.Jim Boeheim had to yell at Jerami Grant for not trying the long pass, but he was too busy celebrating. C.J. Fair lost his voice in about five seconds after the shot went down. Tyler Ennis knows he yelled, but for the life of him he can’t remember what he said.A few things were clear. Ennis had just made the biggest shot of his life — and possibly the greatest in Syracuse history — from about 35 feet away. Ennis had just shown more emotion than he had all season. Somehow, the No. 1 Orange (24-0, 11-0 Atlantic Coast) pulled out a 58-56 win against No. 25 Pittsburgh (20-5, 8-4) in the Petersen Events Center. The freshman’s shot silenced the 12,935 that thought they had witnessed No. 1 go down.Boeheim tried to rack his brain for the other moments like this. One-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty-eight is a lot of games to store up in that bald dome. When pressed on the spot he remembered only one other buzzer-beater. In a locker room discussion with assistant coach Mike Hopkins and radio announcer Matt Park, he recalled three more.Still, there can’t be anything quite like that.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAn undefeated season on the line. The longest winning streak in program history, too.Ranked No. 1, SU would need a miracle heave from a freshman?Crazier things have happened, but none in Syracuse history.The first shot that Boeheim remembered was Pearl Washington’s. That one came off a missed free throw and from the circle at midcourt.“That game was tied, though,” Boeheim said.Then there were some of Gerry McNamara’s miracles. His buzzer-beater against Georgetown gets bonus points because it was Georgetown, but that game was tied, too. His game-winner against Cincinnati set the stage for his incredible Big East Tournament run and “10 f*cking games,” but at the time it was just an 8-9 game in the first round.Conrad McRae’s Christian Laettner-esque buzzer-beater is the last — plus it was by the offensively inept McRae — but that was to stave off a major upset.Ennis’ heroics were, in Vegas’ eyes, as an underdog and kept this magical Syracuse season unblemished.“He came up with a play to go down in history,” Fair said.And there was no player more fitting to hit this one. He has this knack for getting it done at the end of games. Against Pittsburgh the first time, Miami (Fla.) the second time and Wake Forest the only time, Ennis made the decisive plays — tough plays that a normal freshman can’t make.The shot against the Panthers was one that no one should make, but one his teammates have almost come to expect. Even Boeheim, who never expects a heave like that to go in, said he thought this one was on its way down once it came off Ennis’ hand.“They kind of trust me now,” Ennis said, “so they’re happy, but I don’t think they’re too surprised.”Every time Ennis does something amazing, it seems there’s no way to top it. First there was his sequence of plays the last time SU played Pitt. Two driving layups that kept Syracuse undefeated on Jan. 18.That was probably the peak of Ennis-mania — when national media finally asked if he was the best freshman in the country and lumped him in with the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.He doesn’t always play the best, but he plays his best when it matters, and his best is as good as anyone else in the country. At a certain point, it seemed, there was nothing he could do to keep surprising anyone. No single highlight could.And then he had to go deliver one of the biggest highlights in program history.“I think he should just quit basketball now,” Fair said. “Go out on top.”So what’s left for him to work on? Maybe he can show up earlier in the game. Or he can improve his jump shot. A couple of Grant-style dunks would shock people, too, I guess.That’s just nitpicking, though. Instead, he can work on some of the smaller parts of his game.“They said I’ve got to work on my celebrations,” he said.That’s one thing. And for this guy, it might be the only thing.David Wilson is a staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DBWilson2. Comments Published on February 13, 2014 at 1:29 amlast_img read more