Sunday will be a celebration of all things Syracuse basketball.
The women’s and men’s teams are both in the Elite Eight of their NCAA Tournaments. The women will play Tennessee in the afternoon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the men will face Virginia in the evening in Chicago.
“What else can you ask for?” women’s coach Quentin Hillsman said Saturday.
The No. 4-seeded women upset No. 1 South Carolina on Friday to get a chance to play for their first Final Four. Afterward, they watched their 10th-seeded brothers in Orange wrap up a win over Gonzaga. The men will be playing for their fifth Final Four under Jim Boeheim.
“We were watching the game in our rooms, yelling and screaming. You could hear us up and down the hall cheering for them,” Brittney Sykes said. “It just speaks to Syracuse basketball, period. It's a great program to be a part of, and we're so happy for our boys. They deserve it, and we deserve to be here. We're showing the world we're both really great teams and hopefully we both get to the Final Four and make more history.”
Hillsman, the women’s coach since 2006, said 40th-year men’s coach Jim Boeheim has been a mentor to him.
“Coach is a special guy,” Hillsman said. “There’s not too many places in the country where a men’s basketball coach would allow you to work. Men’s basketball coaches can really stifle women’s programs. He promotes our program. He does nothing to take advantage of our program, put his foot down and say, ‘This is mine.’
“I know when the Melo Center opened, he called me and said, ‘We’re splitting this facility down the middle. Half is yours, half is ours.’ He allowed me to work. I can’t praise him enough for that.”
Boeheim said after his team’s win that he was tuned into the women’s game against South Carolina instead of watching Virginia, his next opponent, beat Iowa State.
“I was so happy for them that they beat South Carolina,” Boeheim said. “That was a great accomplishment for Coach Q and his girls. I was watching that. I probably should have been doing something else, but I enjoyed watching that.”