Today's Post story reminded me once again of how big the last game at Manley Field House was and how it shaped Georgetown basketball for the next decade.
Old people, of which i count myself as one, are fond of saying "things were different back then." But remembering that game things really were different. First of all, you could not watch the game even though it was the biggest game of the year. ESPN had just been launched but DC didn't get cable until all of eastern europe was wired first and Dick Vitale was still making a living coaching in Detroit.
Diehard fans were forced to gather around radios to listen to the game with some young guy with a weird last name calling the play by play. My friends gathered at a dive bar/restaurant called Nicky's. Nicky's was a good place to catch games because the beer was cheap, the cockroaches friendly and they had one of these new projection screens that was at least 25 inches...and yes there was color tv by then.
But it was quite a scene at Nicky's, which by the way became Brusara for awhile and is now something called Blue Ridge or blue something. About 50 rabid fans drinking beer and listening to the radio. I remember nearly getting blown out in the first half, at least some things have not changed, and then very slowly and painfully getting back into the game in the second half. We all conjured up the picture of Syracuse wilting under the withering Georgetown pressure, Shelton and Duren, intimidating the Orange and yound Sleepy Floyd announcing himself to the basketball world. Conjured images because i'm not sure i've ever actually seen an actual highlight from that game. And then Thompson absolutely earning his arrogant son of a bitch reputation by announcing to everyone one in the hall that Manley Field House was officially closed.
If you chronicle Georgetown basketball, this really was the night things changed. It wasn't when Ewing signed or we went to the Final Four. It was the night we closed the Field House.
The biggest change for me was all about expectations. Before that night, we didn't expect that much from the team except a good excuse to watch a game, drink some beer and blow off some steam. Remeber, the games were rarely on TV, we played in a 3000 seat on campus gym and Craig Shelton, John Duren and Steve Martin were not the subject of cable tv profiles, blogs or radio talk shows.
But after that night we really did start expecting things. And this team delivered. Shelton, Floyd and Duren took us within one point of reaching the final four losing to a very good Iowa team at the Spectrum. Just a couple days before, Georgetown had shocked the Albert King led Maryland team in the Sweet Sixteen. Within a year Ewing was recruited and we all know what happened.
This isn't about I wish things were like the way the used to be, it was a simpler time, people got along. Not a chance. I wouldn't trade any great time at McDonough or rooting for the the underrated dangerous team which Georgetown pre 1979 always seemed to be( i can still see the look of shock on Holy Cross' Ronnie Perry at the Holiday Festival at MSG in '78 and don't get me going on the Missouri game at McDonough) for what they accomplished over the next three decades. Plus the six days in New Orleans was the best week of college, at least what i remember of it.
It is about a game and a rivalry that changed Georgetown basketball. So it all goes back to the Orange. i'm all for hating them, but after we win tonight we should also thank them for being the victim of a program changing ass whipping and changing things forever. And, when we inevitably fall short of expectations for a year or two, or an entire esherickian era, we can also blame the Orange for raising our own expectations. God, i really hate everything about Syracuse.
Note..if this sounds too much like something on hoyatalk, please feel free to ban me for life.