Optimism – I’ve had it every year I’ve been on the Hilltop. My freshman year coincided with the arrival of L.J. Peak, Isaac Copeland, Paul White, Tre Campbell, and Trey Mourning, a recruiting class considered one of the best in the nation. While a Second Round exit should never be the goal, it felt like a foundation was laid and deeper tournament runs were on the horizon. The next year, the cause for excitement was the potential for growth. A disappointing year saw the Hoyas miss out on postseason play, but even after a tough 2015-16 campaign, I still had optimism last year. The team was still young the year before, so improvement was likely, I thought.
Obviously, my optimism, along with that of the student body, never was rewarded with sustained success on the court. Transfers, heartbreakingly close losses, and disappointment have plagued the Hoyas for my first three years on campus, yet my optimism this year might be at an all-time high even as on-court expectations are at their lowest. Friends and other students that I’ve talked to have shared my general feelings: even though my senior class may not get the chance to see the program dramatically and fully rise from the ashes before the conclusion of its time on the Hilltop, we do get the opportunity to see the program begin its rebuilding process. The chance to see Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing at the helm with a roster that includes six fresh faces should make the 2017-18 season a fun one for students and fans alike.
While I don’t think any fan on campus is expecting the Hoyas to turn into a Top 25 team overnight, they all are hoping to see this team grow together. While the much-maligned non-conference schedule filled with very winnable games at Capital One Arena (I still need to get used to saying that) may not lead to any signature wins, it should give the team time to gel, Ewing the opportunity to figure out his rotation, the die-hard fans optimism, and the average students reason to set their apathy aside.
The ultimate key in reinvigorating the student body is to get people in seats and two perks have been revealed thus far. The first, announced by Ewing at Hoya Madness, will see all current students get in for free – coupled with a free t-shirt – on Sunday. While this may not have a big effect on the more hardcore fans that have already purchased their season tickets, it will give students who are on the fence the opportunity to check out game day atmosphere firsthand. On the subject of tickets, the second perk is that student season ticket prices have dropped from $125 to $99, which is as low as they’ve been since I’ve been here. While the effect of this may not be as strong as that of the Jacksonville promotion, I do feel that more students will buy tickets because of this. As always, I’m sure that Chris Grosse and his Marketing team will have plenty of fun and unique promotions planned as well.
Both of these moves are targeting the key demographic that will ultimately lead to more students showing up at games: the casual fans. To put it simply, the die-hards who have witnessed home losses to Radford, UNC Asheville, DePaul, and Arkansas State over the past two years aren’t going anywhere. It’s the casual fans that need to be sought out, and that’s why I think that Sunday’s game against Jacksonville is extremely important and could dictate student attendance for at least the rest of the non-conference slate and perhaps the rest of the season, depending how strongly the Hoyas perform in November and December. While I may be being slightly hyperbolic, I do feel confident that Sunday’s atmosphere should be vibrant and energetic, especially when compared to past games of a similar magnitude.
Georgetown’s hire of Patrick Ewing a few months ago helped reinvigorate and has inspired optimism in a generally apathetic student body that hopefully will translate to stronger attendance at games and a rekindling of the Hoya Paranoia of years and decades past. While I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be in the first two rows for almost every game I’ve been at over the last two seasons, I’d much rather be a few rows deeper and see more of my fellow Hoyas come support the team.