Writers, fans, and a dog recap their favorite moments from the famed Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry
With the Big East finale for Georgetown and Syracuse tipping off tomorrow, this week as been a reflective one as both The Washington Post and Washington City Paper have run exhaustive oral histories of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry. In keeping with this reflective spirit that has enveloped the hours leading up to this game, we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON fumbled through our limited casual rolodex and asked a plethora of people the following question: What is your favorite moment from the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry?
Here are their answers. Enjoy.
Ted Leonsis: Internet pioneer, owner of Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Verizon Center, venture capital investor, filmmaker, author and philanthropist. Also, (C '77):
So many-- Big John getting tossed and their fans chanting" Where's your daddy"; Patrick going at it with Pearl; shutting down their old barn with a win, last month's statement win, Michael Graham's fight; Sherman Douglas thinking he won the game--and we come back with a buzzer beater! What a world class rivalry.
Jon Rothstein, College Basketball Insider for CBS Sports Network and WFAN:
I'd have to say my favorite memory from the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry was the most recent one. Otto Porter's dominance in the Carrier Dome took the air right out of the home crowd and will go down as one of the great individual performances in Big East history. Porter's 33 point, eight rebound, five steal performance cemented him as one of the elite players in college basketball in 2013.
Matt Norlander, CBS Sports:
For me, it goes back to being in the the Dome on Feb. 24, 2002, when Boeheim had the court named after him. Big, big game. Probably a top-five experience in terms of build-up for any regular-season game I've been to. At the time I believe it set the new record for attendance. My seats were way, way up there. (I didn't attend Syracuse but have about 10 friends who did, and was dating an SU girl at the time. Do your blog readers now hate me for life? I have Georgetown friends as well!) Anyway, as this rivalry tends to go, plans were spoiled. A Georgetown team that would finish 19-11 won 75-69 over an Orangemen club that was Final Four-bound -- in the NIT. I think a lot of the memories from how average G'town and Syracuse were for most of that turn-of-the-century era has been forgotten in light of both programs' quality over the past eight years. But even during the "down" years, the hate was heavy. That's what I remember.
Casual Wiseman "BashfulHoya", former Georgetown player under John Thompson, Jr.:
My favorite recollection of the rivalry is the only game that took place between the two schools during my four years on the hilltop. And it was one of only two that took place during the 1970s.
Georgetown and Syracuse hooked up during the week between Christmas and New Year's during the 1974-5 season in the Kodak Classic which was played at the War Memorial Auditorium in Rochester N.Y. This was well before the Big East and the schools were just starting their run as basketball powerhouses during that season. Back then, there was no bracketology and there was no "top 25". The polls only tallied the top twenty schools and the NCAA tournament only selected 25 teams.
But the seeds of a great rivalry were planted that night. Georgetown was in its third season under John Thompson Jr. and the school had not been invited to the national championship tournament since 1943. But this was the season that GU would go to the big dance again. The team had a strong nucleus from the 1976 class of Merlin Wilson, Jon Smith and Billy Lynn along with Larry Long ‘77. The strong class of 1978 included Derrick Jackson, Ed Hopkins and Mike Riley. It was a balanced scoring team with 6 players averaging between 9 and 11ppg and, of course, the strong point of the team was the hellacious Georgetown pressure defense.
Syracuse was coached by Roy Danforth and was coming off 2 straight appearances in the NCAAs. This year would prove to be a breakout for them as they ended up going to the Final Four in San Diego for the first time ever and ended being ranked 6th in the country. Their team was led by Rudy Hackett, a 6-9 power forward and "Bug" Williams, a lightning quick point guard. They also had this guy Earnie Siebert, who was big and fat but dangerous.
So, let's get this straight. Georgetown, a clear underdog, was going up to the frigid North to take on a favored Syracuse squad. Well some things never change. The game was a very tough back and forth affair between two tall and talented teams. The crowd was overwhelmingly behind Syracuse, but like so many other occasions-1980, last Saturday-the Orange faithful went home quiet and disappointed as the Hoyas sneaked out a 71-70 win. It was clearly our biggest win up until that point in the season (only to be topped by the one point win over West Virginia in Morgantown when Derrick Jackson hit an 18 foot jumper with 2 seconds to go to win the ECAC South and clinch its first NCAA tournament bid in 31 years).
While the game took place almost 40 years ago, there were several starins connecting that game to today's program. Rich Chvotkin was in his first year doing the play by play on radio. And I do remember that Coach Thompson brought his two young sons, John and Ronny-two skinny young guys - on the trip.
An interesting and disappointing footnote to the game is that the next night we played for the tournament championship against a small and undermanned Dartmouth. Don't ask me how it happened but Dartmouth beat us 57-56 behind a 6-5 center Jim Beatty who went on to pitch for the New York Yankees championship teams of Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson.
Rich Chvotkin, "The Voice of the Hoyas":
"Manley Field House is closed"
At that time, February 13, 1980, it was a very snowy night, and I walked in the media entrance to Manley Field House on the side of the building with my radio broadcasting equipment, and Security never stopped me. I went to the court, established my position on the court near the foul line on the Georgetown side, set up my phone line. I had showed up two hours prior to tip off, and the spectators filled up the Field House very quickly.
Sleepy Floyd, John Duren and Craig Shelton were the standouts on the Georgetown roster, and Ed Spriggs would contribute towards the end of the game. Louis Orr and Roosevelt Bouie were the stars for Syracuse.
Syracuse was up 14, Georgetown started to come back, and the crowd at Manley Field house kept getting quieter and quieter. With five seconds to go, Marty Headd fouled Sleepy Floyd, who hit two free throws to win the game, 52-50. At the end of the game, Georgetown walked off the court with the crowd in stunned silence.
That would set the stage for many, many exciting games to come.
Pam Chvotkin, daughter of Rich, works in sports marketing/production:
Growing up in my family it was taught early on what rivalries were, specifically between Georgetown and Syracuse. Going to games at a young age, one of my favorite memories during those big games were the painter hats and megaphones with "Crush the Orangemen" written on them. Most notably, were the Boeheim masks given out during home games. They looked like mad scientist halloween masks which were green and plastic with black glasses and curly black hair similar to Willy Wonka. We have them in our attic somewhere I'm sure. As biased as we were in cheering for the Hoyas to win, there was always an underlying level of respect for the school and the coaches/players because of the level at which we would play them. It was the best when both teams had a lot of talent (which happened more often than not) and that was one of my favorite memories that I'll miss the most.
Ron Klain: Former Chief of Staff to Al Gore and VP Joe Biden:
In 1980, for the famous final game at Manley, I was the News Editor at The Hoya, and we were busy putting the paper to bed that night. (At that time, it involved cutting and pasting special strips of print on to flat sheets for the printing presses -- don't ask.) When the Hoyas won, we literally stopped the presses, superimposed a wire photo of the winning shot over a wire photo of the scoreboard, and slammed it on page one with the caption, "Manley Field House is officially closed." I will never, ever forget that night.
Casual Wiseman "sleepyhoya":
Most fun Georgetown Syracuse game was the 2010 Big East Tournament at MSG. Hard to beat trouncing Syracuse while sitting in the Casual Hoya Luxury Box with a private bar while hosting several of the blog overlords.
Eric "Showtime" Cusimano, former Male Cheerleader (SFS '10):
Although all Syracuse games will always hold a special place in my heart, my favorite moment comes from the 2010 Big East Tournament. Georgetown had struggled down the stretch with losses to South Florida, Rutgers, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and West Virginia in February, with three of those losses coming at home, though a strong outing against Cincinnati to close the regular season and a consistent performance in the opening round of the Big East Tournament against South Florida gave reason for optimism heading into the second round against Syracuse.
Although I had the privilege of being a part of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry in numerous regular season matchups, including two road trips to the icy nothing that is the Carrier Dome, this 2010 Big East Tournament match-up was the first time I experienced the rivalry in a one-and-done environment right in Syracuse's backyard.
Playing with a sweet-flow that gave cause to optimistically ponder the potential this team had for the rest of March, the game as I recall was a dominating performance, but not without its tense moment as the game drew to a close. The intensity of the game echoed most when Arinze Onuaku when down with an apparent leg strain which I failed to notice as I continued the onslaught of support, enthusiastically stumbling over the Syracuse training staff that had rushed to his aid. In the close of the game, I also had the pleasure to meet current Hoyas forward Nate Lubick at halftime, which at the time was I'm happy to say quite casual.
The win was particularly memorable as there will always be something special to the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena, particularly sending the #1 ranked team home amongst a heavily homer crowd, especially looking back now in hindsight of a time that seems be lost to the future.
Sean Keeley, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician:
According to every law, rule and regulation related to court-storming, Syracuse fans are supposed to be ashamed of themselves for storming the court following SU's 77-72 win over Georgetown on March 1st, 1998. Syracuse was ranked, at home and playing a rival. Court-storming isn't even supposed to come into the conversation. And yet, it was my favorite memory from any Syracuse basketball game while I was a student there and I wouldn't have changed a thing.
I was a sophomore who had just missed the Final Four run and spent his first season watching Syracuse stumble into the NIT. So by the time we got to this game in '98, there was a real appreciation for being a ranked program with a chance to make a tourney run. Georgetown was in the midst of a mediocre season but they seemed to have our number, up ten points with about five minutes to play. Then, Todd Burgan took over, sent the game into overtime and willed SU to a 77-72 victory. Between the emotions of the rivalry, the comeback and the overtime win, the students collectively knew we had to storm the court. And so we did. I had a friend visiting from Marist that weekend and he not only got to experience storming the Dome court but he also rubbed Boeheim's head in the middle of the fray.
Rob Dauster, Managerial Editor for College Basketball Talk on NBC:
Honestly, I probably don't have the best insight here. I can tell you the best moment in the UConn-Georgetown rivalry (RAY ALLEN BABY!!!!!), but I hated both these teams for three-quarters of my life. Was there a season where they both missed the tournament and played in the NIT? That's my favorite moment.
Troy Machir, Contributing Writer for College Basketball Talk on NBC:
I don't even know where to begin. I've almost three decades hating Syracuse. It's difficult to put it in perspective because hating Syracuse has become such a rich part of my every day life. I cannot begin without mentioning the closing of the Manley Field house. Although I had not been born yet, but it's one of the pillars of this great rivalry.
Personally, my favorite moment was seeing Georgetown defeat No.1-seed Syracuse in the 2010 Big East tournament. Surprisingly enough, it was my first game at Madison Square Garden. Seeing Georgetown beat Syracuse in the Garden just felt right, like everything in the world made sense. It was a moment of clarity. And of course I will never ever forget the time DaJuan Summers dunked, nay, YUNKED all over Kristof Ongeneat. I think he was Swedish. Maybe Finnish. Regardless, or irregardless if you're one of THOSE people, it was awesome, fantastically awesome.
Gerry McNamara's 2006 Big East Tournament run is one of the great individual performances of my generation, but his second half performance against the Hoyas will haunt me for the rest of my life. There is no greater pain for a sports fan than the feeling you get as you watch a second half collapse against your bitter rivals.
Mex Carey, Georgetown Sports Information Director:
I don't have the history that many people around here, and even working at Syracuse, have with this rivalry. My first recollections, honestly, come as a Syracuse fan because I grew up in Upstate New York and went to school there as a freshman for a semester. Obviously, I'm a Georgetown fan and, along with my wife and daughter, bleed Blue & Gray now. I was getting text messages from my wife during the Villanova game about my 11-year-old daughter crying hysterically because of the loss.
So my history with Syracuse-Georgetown goes back to watching games as a kid growing up. But since I've been here, the game I'll probably remember most, and probably cherish the most, was the win this season at the Carrier Dome. There was just such an electric feel in the arena that day. They had been billing that game as such a big event. Even going out for dinner with a high school friend and her husband, SU season ticket holders, I was getting looks wearing a Georgetown shirt and my friend's husband didn't say goodnight to me, he said I hope you lose. So the feeling of knowing that 35,000 people are against you and then silencing the crowd at the same time, that was fantastic and something I won't forget for a long time.
Kent "Glide" Boone, Georgetown Hoyas Superfan:
Yes sir, this win at Syracuse last month was so special for many reasons...Otto's play in the Dome last season was awesome and he came back and finished the job. On top of that we closed the door in a game that meant so much to Georgetown and especially Coach JTIII and his pops. It was one of the "biggest" challenges of the year for the mighty Hoyas in which they accomplished with great poise and determination. Shutting Michael Carter-Williams' mouth "we better than Georgetown" yeah right. Our consistent old school ole fashion ass whupping DEFENSE taught him a lesson! Hoyas Banner Year!
Gary Parrish, CBS Sports:
My favorite moment is the most recent moment -- when Otto Porter scored 33 of Georgetown's 57 points in a win before a record crowd at the Carrier Dome and launched himself into the National Player of the Year conversation. The scene was terrific. Carmelo Anthony's jersey was retired. More than 35,000 fans. And Porter put on a show, one of the best shows in the history of this storied rivalry.
Nicole Auerbach, USA Today college basketball reporter:
I think the best part about all of this is that we've had essentially a two-year farewell tour lamenting the end of this rivalry -- ever since Syracuse and Pitt announced that they would eventually leave. So while everyone else may be sick of people pointing out the end of the rivalry (I'm sure the coaches are sick of the questions about it by now), at least we have had time to appreciate it. It's fantastic that the first game at Syracuse lived up to the hype -- and catapulted a new player (Otto Porter) into the National Player of the Year discussion -- and I have a hunch that this second game will live up to its enormous hype, too. Syracuse will be amped for a chance to knock the Hoyas down a peg and I'm glad that the rivalry will end on a highly competitive note with both teams among the nation's best because that's how this deserves to end -- on top. Any maybe, just maybe, we'll get a last last last chapter of the rivalry at the Big East Tournament, too. I'm crossing my fingers.
Ben Standig, NCAA Insider, CSNwashington.com:
Call it recency bias to the highest order if you must, but I'll go with Otto Porter's 33-point performance in last month's closing the Carrier Dome (in this series) win. Let's be clear, as someone who recalls the Georgetown program before Patrick Ewing arrived on the Hilltop, other memories came to mind first. Michael Jackson's 31 points silencing 31,000 Orange clad fans. Charles Smith's dipsy-do buzzer-beating layup. An ejected JT2 exalting the Syracuse faithful to keep up their full-throated booing as he walked off the court.
The common thread between those memories and Porter's prodigious game, the Carrier Dome itself. More than then Capital Center or Verizon Center, the Carrier Dome, its brightness, the relentless sea of orange stands as key figure in the rivalry. Winning at home, as Georgetown hopes to do on Saturday with a Big East title at stake, tremendous. Winning at Syracuse, epic awesomeness to the nth degree.
Georgetown had one last opportunity as competing Big East members to squeeze the Orange on their court. Syracuse was higher ranked - and as often the case regardless through the years, more hyped. Seems funny now, but arguably the same could have been said of the team's stars heading into that late February day. After that game, nobody dares put Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams on the same level as Porter. The Hoyas 3-point draining sophomore scored more points against the Orange than any other Georgetown player did before him.
No doubt, the trash talk will continue this week and beyond even as the series' future remains up in the air. At this moment in time, no matter the barbs thrown, Georgetown side has the ultimate retort: Otto Porter, 33, your place, final game, boom. Like a fine wine, that memory will only become better with age, at least for one side of the rivalry.
Bobby Bancroft, 106.7 Georgetown beat reporter, AP college basketball freelancer:
As a generally opinionated college basketball voice, I'm actually not sure that I have a favorite moment in the Georgetown - Syracuse rivalry. The main reason? There have been so many of them. But what I can pinpoint is the moment when I understood what this series actually meant.
It's the John Thompson Three Technical game from March 5, 1990.
I had gotten into college basketball the season before so I had seen all of the clips and highlights of the Hoyas Orange rivalry but I didn't really feel it yet. Watching John Thompson pick up three straight technical fouls - something my fifth grade brain didn't even know was possible - and then taunting the crowd of over 30,000 as he walked off the Carrier Dome court is something that I'll never forget.
And with that, I got it. Syracuse hated Georgetown. Georgetown hated Syracuse. And all was good in the world of college basketball.
Tarik El-Bashir, Redskins Insider for CSNWashington.com:
I've covered my share of big sports events over the past 17 years. Game 7s in the Stanley Cup finals, Major League and NFL playoff games, the Indy 500, etc.
Normally, I would not mention a regular season college basketball game in the same breath with those. But I'll grant an exception to my one-and-only trip to the Carrier Dome in February 2011. Seniors Chris Wright, Julian Vaughn and Austin Freeman led the Hoyas to a gritty 64-56 victory over the Orange to end a nine-year drought for Georgetown in that building and hand John Thompson III his first win in six games there.
Another reason I'll never forget that night: It was bitterly cold and I was battling the flu. For the first time in my career, I almost bailed and went back to the hotel. At tip off, my temperature was 102. But for the better part of the next two hours, I didn't think once about my aching head. I just sat back and enjoyed college basketball's best rivalry from a courtside seat.
Jack the Bulldog, Georgetown mascot:
Of course the best part of this epic rivalry has always been the timeout when all the fans get to see what they really came for, me in all my glory charging onto the court to devour the orange box. This Saturday, the taste of that awful orange box will be stronger then ever. I can't imagine a better way to retire.