Before this game, I had the chance to several Hoya alums at a meet-and-greet event, where the alumni lamented the negativity that has come out of Casual Hoya in recent weeks. There would be no negativity today, however, as Georgetown pulled out a big 72-69 home win against UConn in what was likely the loudest and best-attended Hoya home game this season. It’s games like this that make being a fan worth it.
So what happened on the court?
The crowd came alive in the second half as the Hoyas rallied from an 11-point second half deficit. LJ Peak led the charge with 21 points, including 16 in the second half. The Hoyas started connecting from beyond the arc more often, making six of twelve second half three-point attempts after going 2-11 from downtown in the first half.
Rodney Pryor threw down an emphatic alley-oop slam on a feed from Jagan Mosely early in the second half that cut UConn’s lead to nine and woke up a crowd that was still in a lull after the stellar jump-roping performance at halftime. Yes, the loudest the crowd got prior to Pryor’s slam was for the Firecrackers, a group of 3rd-8th graders who can perform some amazing jump-rope tricks.
After Pryor’s alley-oop, both the crowd and the Hoyas came back into the game, as one good play after another fueled a Georgetown run. Akoy Agau’s heads-up decision to take a charge on a drive by UConn’s Rodney Purvis led to three pointers from Jonathan Mulmore and LJ Peak that tied the game at the under-12 timeout.
Jalen Adams led the Huskies with 22 points and demonstrated a willingness to celebrate almost every play he made. Early in the second half, he delivered a long pass to Rodney Purvis for a basket, celebrating by standing still for a moment and flinging his arms out. Adams also celebrated a three-pointer later in the half by running down the court with his hands around his eyes. Fortunately for the Hoyas, Rodney Pryor responded on the next possession with a three-pointer of his own.
A shout-out is also due to a couple of players who had some better performances than usual. Jessie Govan chipped in 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench, earning most of the minutes at center in the process. Akoy Agau may have only scored four points, but grabbed six rebounds and made several hustle plays. He showed a willingness to battle for offensive rebounds, grabbing four of the team’s ten total offensive boards.
So what about the crowd?
I arrived at 10:30 in advance of the doors opening to find only six or seven other students waiting to get in. That did not seem to bode well for student attendance, but the crowd filled in pretty well by tip-off and continued to grow as the game went on.
Despite the Hoyas’ 1-4 start to Big East play, student fans still showed up and dressed up too. Fans wore an array of costumes, including animals, hot dogs, and even Cinderella.
A new crop of “big heads” arrived for this semester, and the new heads were creative and innovative if I’d say so myself. I pretty much had my choice of head and decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance to go for the Crying Jordan head.
The head for today's game: Crying Michael Jordan! pic.twitter.com/Xu67E2yHbW— Roey (@roeyhadar) January 14, 2017
A pair of Georgetown students secured arguably the crown jewel of the new “big heads,” one that features not one but two Georgetown alums, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, in character from their Broadway show “Oh Hello.”
Before the game, I joined the Hoya Hoop Club’s pre-game social hour and, as I mentioned at the top, found that not all alumni have been pleased with the blog’s negativity. They suggested that I had the “power of the pen” to convince students to come to games. Unfortunately, as I told them, that’s something well beyond my pay grade.
I also had the chance to talk with former Hoyas basketball player Dean Berry for a little bit. Berry, who notably taught Allen Iverson the crossover, seemed to fall into the positivity camp, noting that many things happen behind the scenes that explain the things we tend to find confusing. For those wondering, he seems to be doing well for himself personally, as he is currently an AAU coach down in Florida.
During the game, I’m happy to report, the student section reached its liveliest levels all season, as a combination of colorful heckling, elaborate costumes, and intriguing routines made the Verizon Center feel like it had some sort of “home-court advantage.”
Hoya Blue tried to distract UConn free-throw shooters with the “Jack-in-the-Box,” and while they had been unsuccessful in previous games, the trick worked wonders on the Huskies. A pair of hot-dog wearing students leapt out during one free throw, and lo and behold, they helped force a miss.
Some hot dogs popped out of the "Jack in the Box." It worked this time! The shot missed pic.twitter.com/FqLn7BCfu4— Roey (@roeyhadar) January 14, 2017
In another entertaining development, UConn guard Jalen Adams seemed to bite on the intentionally wrong shot clock countdown in the first half. Because the student section starts its countdown from 10 when 12 or 13 seconds remain on the shot clock, Adams would regularly put up desperation shots with three or four seconds left on the clock, seemingly relying on our (deliberately) erroneous counting.
The students also had some fun at the expense of Adams’ above-the-knee shorts. During one first-half free throw attempt, a few students sang out “Who wears short shorts?” as he prepared to shoot.
The crowd, seemingly more so than usual, engaged with the game. Students spontaneously broke out into a rendition of “Hey Baby,” and when the band played its usual version of the song, a couple of students performed their best ballroom-style moves with Jack the Bulldog.
Even Jack is dancing along to Hey Baby this time pic.twitter.com/KXwad25hSR— Roey (@roeyhadar) January 14, 2017
The “Copy That Scene” cam featured the “magic carpet ride” from Aladdin. A couple of friends of mine sat on the front step of the aisle, imitating the ride and waving frantically at the cameraman to put them on the Jumbotron. Although they failed, the cameras found several entertaining fans who copied the ride quite well.
The crowd was loud enough that I needed to pop a pair of Advil as soon as I got home. Case and point:
And another Hoyas bucket gets the crowd pumped up. 65-59 with 3:29 to go pic.twitter.com/GcXmrDwYxv— Roey (@roeyhadar) January 14, 2017
And of course, when the bad calls came along, they broke out some colorful vocabulary: (Warning: some NSFW language ahead)
The faithful are not pleased by the most recent call they disagreed with pic.twitter.com/usffmzroMv— Roey (@roeyhadar) January 14, 2017
The crowd held its breath with every late-game free throw, celebrating Akoy Agau’s back-to-back swishes, then lamenting Jessie Govan’s miss. Fortunately, the Hoyas survived a late Jalen Adams three-point attempt that bounced out and corralled the offensive rebound to lock up the win. Needless to say, the crowd liked what they saw.
Thanks for bearing with me on this article, as I tried something new and incorporated a lot of pictures and video. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what being in the Georgetown student section looks like. People on here can forget this in the midst of losing streaks, but when plenty of students show up and the team plays relatively well, Georgetown basketball can actually be really fun. Even if this game does not represent a turning point for this team, today serves as a reason for positivity and a reminder of how enjoyable the Hoyas can be.