Busting Brackets

Gerry McNamara builds up Siena Basketball Coaching Staff with Familiar Faces

It's a well known phenomenon that when a new head coach gets hired to take over a program, they get to build the nucleus of their new coaching staff with familiar faces. This phenomenon crosses over mulitple sports and can be seen from the high school level all the way up to the professional ranks. Head coaches are partly (or largely for that matter) successful because of the staff members they build around themselves. After all, the success or failure of a program rests largely on the hard work and dedication that assistant coaches put in day after day. A head coach wins because assistant coaches help make that head coach a winner and when it comes to moving to a new coaching assignment, why not bring familiar faces and talent with you?
Cornell v Syracuse
Cornell v Syracuse / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

After a frustrating 2023-24 campaign, the Siena College men's basketball program sought out a change of pace and hired up-and-coming assistant coach Gerry McNamara to be the new head coach heading into next season. As with most new head coaching changes, Coach McNamara was afforded the opportunity to build his own coaching staff and install them to help rebuild the Saints' basketball fortunes in 2024-25. After all, why not work with people you know and trust? I haven't been a coach in the collegiate ranks but have nearly two decades of experience at the high school level as both an assistant and a head coach and I know that good head coaches surround themselves at all times with good assistants.

When a good assistant coach moves up the ranks and takes over a program, it's a natural progression in the coaching profession to take as many good people as you can to help you build up a new program and in the case of the Siena Saints men's basketball program, Gerry McNamara is following suit as he transitions from an assistant at Syracuse to the new men' head coach at Siena. The poaching of good coaching talent seems to be a perk of head coaches wherever they go and almost an unwritten rule for this profession.

Siena College gains not only a new head coach in Gerry McNamara but an entire men's basketball program staff and that staff will be built around Coach G-Mac's colleagues including his new Director of Basketball Operations Ryan Beaury. When describing Beaury, Coach McNamara states: "He's a Swiss Army knife. He's great on the court with the players, does incredible film breakdown, and he's an infectious personality . . ." Beaury brings a pedigree as a past graduate assistant and later video coordinator at Syracuse, along with additional duties in building scouting reports and recruiting duties - all of which translate to critically-need talent to help rebuild the Siena basketball program.

Adding to the Syracuse connection is new assistant coach Arinze Onuaku. Onuaku not only brings a collegiate playing background at Syracuse but prior playing experience in the NBA - a huge selling point to young players who may have dreams and aspirations to play professionally some day. Coach Onuako played in the NBA for New Orleans, Cleveland, Minnesota and Orlando and was the 2016 Summer League MVP while playing for the Magic. In addition to his prior youth and high school coaching experience, Onuako brings professional coaching experience with the NBA G League as he was an assistant with the Capital City Go-Go, an affiliate of the Washington Wizards. Onuaku also completed the arduous NBA assistant coach program from 2021 to 2022. To add to his basketball resume, Onuako played at Syracuse from 2005-2010 and is the all-time Orange field-goal percentage scorer (.648) and garnered multiple All-Academic honors on his way to earning a bachelor' degree in Sports Management from Syracuse in 2010.

Joining the Syracuse reunion at Siena College is fellow Orange alumnus Ryan Blackwell. Blackwell will do well in terms of being involved in high school recruiting with his previous nine years at Liverpool High School where he was the 2018 USA Today New York state basketball coach of the year after leading Liverpool HS to a 26-0 run and a Class AA state title. Blackwell also brings professional playing experience under his belt after playing in Japan previously. Blackwell also graduated from Syracuse in 2000 after earning 1998 All-Big East Academic honors. Along with Blackwell, Coach G-Mac has picked up Ben Lee as another assistant coach.

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While Lee doesn't have a Syracuse connection per se, the 2019 Union College brings local roots to the Siena basketball program and the former Union point guard and team captain has spent the last two seasons at the University of Washington. As an assistant coach and Director of Recruiting for the Huskies, Lee brings a west coast connection back to upstate New York and the Pac 12 coaching experience will no doubt be invaluable as Lee makes his transition back to a more familiar locale.