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View from the Student Section: We Barely Beat Elon

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That’s where this program seems to be at right now, folks.

Maui Invitational - Georgetown v Oklahoma State

The unofficial cheer sheets distributed before each game had a little bit of fun with the Georgetown fight song, replacing the usual lyrics with the hit song “Closer” by The Chainsmokers, and “closer” may be an appropriate word to describe the Georgetown Hoyas’ narrowest win yet. The Hoyas squeaked by Elon 77-74 in a game that came down to the last possession.

Rodney Pryor and L.J. Peak led the way for the Hoyas, scoring 23 and 22 points respectively and together accounting for more than half of the team’s offensive production. Peak also added a team-leading eight rebounds and at times shouldered the brunt of the offensive load. The Hoyas big men also demonstrated a willingness to drive in from the perimeter, as both Akoy Agau and Jessie Govan found scoring opportunities by aggressively driving into the lane on several occasions.

The Hoyas struggled to defend Elon early, as the Phoenix demonstrated confident ball movement and a knack for finding the open shooter. Elon seemed emboldened by their early success, however, finishing the game with 28 three-point attempts. Despite trailing by double digits in the first half, the Hoyas clawed back with two big runs, a 9-2 run late in the first half, and a 14-5 run in the second half.

Georgetown held onto a tight lead through most of the second half, just barely holding on long enough to prevent a buzzer-beater attempt from Elon. There were some fortuitous bounces for the Hoyas as well, including an L.J. Peak free throw attempt that took two high bounces off the back of the rim before tumbling into the net. Helping matters more was Georgetown’s shooting in the second half, as the Hoyas shot 17-24 from the floor in the final 20 minutes (h/t The Hoya for that factoid.)

So how was the crowd for this one? Pretty imbalanced, that’s for sure. Nearly all of the student fans at Sunday’s game, the last home game of the fall semester, congregated on the non-band side. While they filled up most of the area below the tarp, it led to a nearly empty crowd on the side featuring the Stonewalls and the Pep Band. Seeing just one solitary soul on the other side, I moved over there for the bulk of the game. Approximately ten students joined on that side over the course of the game, but when I first got there after the under-16 timeout in the first half, good seats were still available.

Some usual traditions seemed to go by the wayside. I made it back to the non-band side early in the second half, but when the band played “Hey Baby,” no one really sang along. Fortunately, when I made it back to the emptier side, the band led efforts to distract free throw shooters by singing Christmas carols as they lined up to shoot.

I struck up an informal conversation with a member of Florida State’s basketball staff who had taken an empty seat prior to their matchup with GW that would follow the conclusion of the game. We talked a bit about our respective programs. He expressed some surprise that Hoyas forward Isaac Copeland was not playing. I noted that he’s been dealing with an injury, but that unfortunately, his performance early on just hasn’t earned him much playing time this season.

I asked him about his team’s impending start of ACC play and he just shook his head in frustration. The Hoyas should probably thank their lucky stars that unlike FSU, they don’t have to play Duke twice and face both Virginia and North Carolina on the road.

The crowd had its moment leading into a timeout late in the second half, however. On one possession, as the Hoyas held a narrow lead, the crowd put together a few seconds of consistent noise. I try to avoid leaning on intangibles, but the team seemed to feed off the sudden relative burst of fan energy, ultimately forcing Elon into a shot-clock violation.

Still, circumstances aside, the crowd did not really fill up and the arena remained relatively sterile throughout. This still remains something that cannot be blamed wholly on any one person or group of people, but a “perfect storm” of conditions has contributed to the large-scale drop in both student and general attendance.

I will not accept the notion proposed by some alumni on this blog that students are to blame for not coming to games. There has been an increasing disconnect between Georgetown students and on-campus athletics that needs to be fixed. The basketball team’s inability to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament is just part of the problem. We had a women’s soccer team make a run to the equivalent of the Final Four and yet most students didn’t have a clue. Georgetown suffers from this problem across the board.

On top of that, several reasons exist for why students don’t want to come: it costs money, it takes too long (at least three hours when factoring in travel there and back), the games start at inconvenient times, and perhaps most importantly, the on-court product isn’t all that good and really hasn’t been for a long time.

For some perspective, the two Georgetown basketball highlights for most current seniors like me are a midseason upset of a rival (the January 2015 win over top-5 Villanova), and a first-round win in the NIT (the on-campus thriller at McDonough vs. West Virginia.) We’re two full cycles of students removed from the Final Four appearance that occurred a decade ago. No one here really has the memories of the very good Georgetown teams of past years. Basketball mediocrity has become the norm for current students. So can you really blame them for not showing up? I think not.

Hoya Saxa! Let’s have a long winning streak! If you build it, they will come!