5 AM. My roommate and I arrived at 5 AM to watch this game. Others got there at 5 PM Friday afternoon. People slept the night and hundreds of Georgetown students were lined up by the time this one started. It was all totally worth it as your Georgetown Hoyas laid the smack down on the dreaded Orange of Syracuse, leading for most of the game in a 79-72 victory.
But this was more than just a game. Between the six-and-a-half hours of waiting outside and an additional 90 minutes inside the Verizon Center, this was a daylong experience. When we arrived, people were camped out in blankets and garbage bags anticipating the doors opening hours later. Even a 5 AM arrival put us 30-40 people back in the line. I resigned myself to the likelihood that my usual seat would be gone by the time I got inside, but was still happy to be there in time to get another good one. The wait was rough early on, but made easier when stores and, perhaps most importantly, Dunkin Donuts opened. All of the waiting gave us more than enough time to make signs, including "We Hate Hopkins, Too" in honor of Syracuse's substitute coach Mike Hopkins, and a sign I made that read, "If You're Reading This, Cuse Still Sucks." Shoutout also to the guy who made a collage making fun of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's suspension and his penchant for picking his nose. It also gave us a lot of time to collectively boo anybody who walked by our line wearing Syracuse gear.
The line stretched well over a full block by the time the doors opened, and through a chaotic rush of people, we were able to make it down to our usual seats. I didn't request it in advance, but the ushers in the student section (who I have become friendly with over the years) were nice enough to save a couple of seats up front. My roommate and I squeezed in, with looks of shock on our faces. Considering that that was his first ever Georgetown game, the shock was probably doubled for him. I also found out that a fellow regular student, my dancing counterpart on the other side, the lederhosen man (née the "Cheer Bear) also was able to procure his usual seat. In that case, major props to arena staff, Georgetown athletics, and anyone else involved in that.
By a half-hour before game time, the entire student section was full on both sides. I could see students in the upper deck on the other side as well. This is the type of student attendance you dream about when you think about a crazy college basketball student section. And the crowd was into it even before the game. Hoya Blue gave out Boeheim nose-picking heads, and on sight of this, students rushed to turn in their GoCards to claim one for the game. They came out pretty nice, too! By the time pre game intros rolled around, the crowd, both the student section and regular fans, turned up the volume and went nuts. It was a whole army of loud, proud students.
And today, Commander-in-Chief "Rutherford B." Bradley Hayes took control of that army. Fans were chanting his name as he led all Hoyas with 21 points. Hayes also added eight rebounds while shooting 8-12 from the field. Hayes dominated against an undersized Cuse squad, which got out-rebounded and out-muscled by the Hoyas today. Freshman forward Marcus Derrickson led the way on the glass with 10 rebounds, adding 13 points in an impressive double-double performance.
The first half of the game was almost all Georgetown's for the taking as the Hoyas jumped to a 26-12 lead in the first twelve minutes of the game. The Hoyas fed off a "madhouse" crowd that drowned out almost all of the noise from the sizable Syracuse fan contingent by connecting from behind the arc and playing lockdown defense early. In one notable instance of the latter, Reggie Cameron swatted Tyler Lydon's shot away and also made sure to run by him and shout something. Considering Cameron's usual placid demeanor, that was nice to see. After one Georgetown bucket, the fans took to chanting "Where is Boeheim" about Cuse's suspended coach.
Cuse helped the Hoyas in the first half by shooting under 31% from the field, but topped 42% in the second half, which allowed them to claw back into the game. Thanks to a stagnant Georgetown offense, a few three-pointers, and a few foul calls that generated some student section profanity, the Orange outscored the Hoyas in the second half and made it closer than it should have been.
The Hoyas were fortunate to have some lucky bounces in this game, as they shot 48% from the field and 38% from three-point range. Syracuse, meanwhile, missed 20 of their 27 three-point attempts, including a 3-8 performance from behind the arc from Michael Gbinije, who still scored 23 points, and a 3-9 performance from downtown for the "Ageless Wonder," 5th-year senior Trevor Cooney.
I'll give the student section some serious credit. Fans lined up their cheers most of the time, stayed loud all game, and somehow got even louder when it sensed the momentum shifting toward Cuse. The crowd knew not to even try storming the court for this game, although the Verizon Center brought out heavy security just in case. Apart from the large pre game banner that was unfurled in the student section (not sure what it said because I was too busy holding it- "We Are Georgetown," maybe?), the crowd mostly stuck to chants and moves that worked in the past. By the last minute of the game, the enthusiasm flowed throughout the crowd and fans cheered quite loudly in the lead-up to the last few Georgetown free throws, as a euphoric atmosphere filled the Verizon Center. We had just juiced Cuse and we knew it!
And to top it all off, as if enjoying Syracuse win for the first time wasn't awesome enough, not only did I get to keep my nose picking Boeheim cutout, but I finally received a Casual headband! Wore it in the second half and should wear it to future games too!
Long live THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON! Long live this team! Hoya Saxa!