Tonight's game against Cincinnati is going to be a tough test for a Hoya team that found a way to win over the weekend despite a lackluster performance. But, as much as I know how wrong it is, I have to admit that I'm already looking ahead to Saturday's game. I'm not looking ahead to just watching the Orange get crushed at Verizon. I'm looking ahead and looking forward to the Senior Day ceremony that will precede the Orange beatdown.
Senior Day Memories After The Jump:
Most Hoya fans from the Ewing era point to the John Thompson Jr. and Fred Brown hug after securing the National Championship as the most emotional moment in Georgetown basketball history. After all, this could have been written by Hollywood -- basketball player who threw away a chance at a National Championship is vindicated two years later and before 60 or so million Americans shares an emotional hug with his head coach. It was pretty good stuff. In fact, it was a great moment.
But for me, it was not the most emotional moment in my Hoya personal history. That was because it was a TV experience and watching something on TV, even on a 90 inch HD projection TV, can't ever approach the feeling of being there.
In fact the most emotional moments for me were not part of the actual games. The most moving moment for me was the speech John Thompson Jr. gave to students and fans in the aftermath of the loss to North Carolina in 1982. In a nondescript New Orleans hotel ballroom, JT Jr summed up what it meant to be part of the Georgetown community. Putting a week of Hoya Paranoia aside, Thompson emotionally told the crowd how proud he was of his team and how his team had exhibited what's best about the Georgetown community for 40 minutes on that now famous Monday night. It was the best recruiting pitch I'd ever heard for joining Georgetown or any organization for that matter. And it sure made the 24 hour drive home go a lot better.
A close second on emotional moments was Senior Day 1982. Yes, 1982 was a magical season for the Hoyas. But much of that magic was not yet revealed to all of us. This random Tuesday night in February wasn't about winning National Championships, it was about celebrating four years of commitment to the University, the student body, and the game.
These were my classmates we were honoring that night. Rather than hitting the floor with the usual Hoya swagger, the five seniors walked out calmly and slowly with their Mothers and Fathers, Grandmothers and little sisters, all dressed in their Sunday finest.
We honored Eric Smith that night. He was without a doubt the steadiest player on the team. A shutdown defender who could and would score on nights that Sleepy Floyd was off, or Patrick Ewing was in foul trouble. That night I remembered Eric from our Intro to Drama class and his memorable performance of the Richard Burton character in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff. Eric is at almost every home game sitting along the Hoya baseline.
We honored Mike Hancock that night. Mike was about 6' 9", but could not have weighed more than about 200 pounds soaking wet. He started on a team that was one pass away from a national championship. LIke Eric, Iremeber Mike from class also. He was a tall African American version of Michael J Fox's Alex Keaton. Came to class every day wearing a sports coat and carrying a briefcase.
We honored Ed Spriggs that night. Ed was working as a mailman, or so the story goes, when Thompson recruited him. Bad knees and all, he provided defense, rebounding and five hard fouls every game. In an age before blogs and nonstop sports talk, "the mailman" was the everyman that students and the broader community could all relate to. He didn't have a lot of natural talent, but he left it all on the court every night.
And of course we honored Sleepy Floyd that night. The leading scorer in Georgetown history, Eric walked out with family just like all the other seniors. Just like Jim Corcoran, a walk-on who on that night was as big a part of the team and ceremony as Sleepy or Patrick.
It was an emotional night because whether we shared classes or nothing more than games, we had all grown up together. And this February ceremony was the first of many reminders that our time on campus and in college was coming to an end.
We destroyed a pretty good Providence team that night. The players, the parents and the fans all left the Cap Center proud to part of the special community Thompson would point to in defeat only a month later.
In many ways I feel a connection to our current seniors that rivals my graduating class. After a good decade or more of losing track of Georgetown basketball, I randomly went to a meaningless December game a few years back and was hooked again. I think we beat up on American that day. I remember the swagger of a very young but aggressive scorer named Chris Wright and effortless scoring potential of his running mate Austin Freeman.
The last four years have been a great ride thanks to Chris, Austin, Julian Vaughn and Ryan Dougherty. There will be other opportunities for us to extol their virtues on these pages. Saturday is about making sure their parents and families understand how much they mean to us. Smacking down the Orange will be gravy on an already special day.
One last note, we should not take these days for granted. It is a big part of what makes Georgetown special. John Calipari won't be hosting a Seniors Day. In fact, most big time programs will have said goodbye to their stars well before the hint of graduation. Not at Georgetown. With the exception of Allen Iverson and Jeff Green, our stars stay for four years. It is one big reason Hoya basketball is special, and different from most elite programs.