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THE CASUAL AWARDS – Boeheimian Rhapsody

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Beelzebub has a devil put aside for Jim

Hello. Happy belated Hannukah, friends. It’s been so long since last we met. What’s shakin’, Hoya fam?

From Delta to Omicron, and Dartmouth to St. Joe’s, things have been…gloomy around these parts in recent weeks and months. But alas, the most important game on the schedule just reared its ugly orange head on the second Saturday of December, and well…WE’RE BACK, BITCHES.

After weeks of sluggish and uninspiring play, and months of negative nonsense on Georgetown chat boards, our fan base just needed a little juice to increase our blood sugar and prevent the Hypoglycemic Hoyas from giving us all cardiac arrests.

And it’s a good thing we’ve been patient. Because while you were selling your season tickets on StubHub to Syracuse fans (wtf, Section 121), we were watching this young and hungry group of Hoyas mature before our very eyes and TOTALLY REDEEM THEMSELVES by surviving an epic battle against the future benchwarmers of Boeheim’s Army.

But before we look ahead to another battle of wills against Kamala Harris’s alma mater (the RUNNING BISON of HOWARD), it’s time to give out some hardware to those most deserving. So, sit back and relax, take that next Zoom call on your favorite porcelain throne, and celebrate this EXTREMELY LONG OVERDUE holiday season special edition of THE CASUAL AWARDS. Without further ado, away we go….

The Chris Wright/Jagan Mosely Heart of a Champion Award:

AP
Georgetown v St John’s Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Aminu Mohammed.

Thompson’s Towel

Bro. This kid is such a joy to watch. He’s easily the best Georgetown freshman since Otto Porter Jr. (Missouri represent!). Against Syracuse, Aminu dazzled with the best performance of his young career: 23 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks in 37 minutes of action.

Anyone who watched this game knows that Aminu just looked…SPECIAL. He played harder than anyone else on the court. He was somehow both aggressive and patient. He attacked the glass, but also sliced his way through the ‘Cuse zone and made a few feathery passes to teammates around the rim. He beasted his way to the basket, but also took his time at the free throw line. He played stellar defense against Buddy and his buddies, but also waited to take open shots.

Even the parts of his game that seemed to need the most work after the first month of the season – free throw shooting and perimeter shooting – didn’t seem to faze him. He made 8 of 9 free throws, casually sank his only three-point attempt, knocked down baseline and foul line jumpers, and just looked HUNGRY out there.

Love. This. Kid. Keep fighting, young man.

The Larry Johnson Award for Hitting a Meaningful Four-Point Play Award:

Don Carey.

NNY360/J. Newton/WaPo

The sun comes up, a thousand Americans get covid, Don Carey converts a four-point play. It’s always a party when it happens. But to see him do it in the middle of the second half, in a tight game against our hated rival, with Buddy Boeheim in his grill, was just epic.

Carey only took seven shots against Syracuse, but he certainly made them count. He finished with a cool 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. He played under control, displayed fifth-year senior leadership, and didn’t try to force anything. He also connected on all six of his free throws, mostly during crunch time.

Keep playing smart, DC. Love your four-point plan.

The Kevin Malone Award for Small Victories:

All of us.

Look, it’s been a thoroughly challenging last seven years to be a Georgetown fan. But on Saturday, against the hated Orange, things felt normal for a change. An actual crowd, an exciting game, a solid win. It was just, well, fun.

The Markel Starks Award for Being a Savvy Point Guard Award:

Dante Harris.

Citizentribune.com

We see you, DH. Designated Hero.

It’s amazing that this kid is still only a sophomore. Last year we needed him to step up and play like a veteran, and he did. This year, we need the reigning Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player (!) to, well, play like a veteran. And against Syracuse, he did.

In 33 minutes, and despite a nasty looking ankle sprain, Dante dropped a casual seven points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It wasn’t as much offensive production as he’s been used to, but that’s okay. We don’t always need points from Dante – we need smart decisions, good passing, and leadership. Against the Orange, both he and Carey displayed under control, balanced games. That’s what we like to see.

Keep grinding, DH. And make sure you have enough tape on that ankle. We need you.

The Steph Curry Award for Being Unconscious from Deep Award:

Kaiden Rice.

We here at The Awards don’t know what to think about the fifth-year senior from The Citadel. He misses all seven of his three-point attempts against American. He makes seven out of ten against Siena. He misses all eight of his three-point attempts against South Carolina (his hometown team). He makes an astounding ten out of twelve threes (!) against UMBC. Wut.

His ten threes against UMBC set a Georgetown record for most threes in a game, shattering the previous record of seven that had been held by several Hoyas, including Kaiden himself. I mean, when this dude is firing on all cylinders, he’s Steph. His quick release is unstoppable. He’s like a guy in NBA Jam who is on fire, so you gotta just keep feeding him, no matter how improbable his looks may be.

(Also, if you want to see one of Ewing’s most memorable performances, watch this)

Entering the Syracuse game, given Kaiden’s history of inconsistent shooting performances, we didn’t know what to expect. To have success against the 2-3 zone, teams typically need to hit shots from the perimeter. But with Kaiden looking so inconsistent, it was anyone’s guess how he’d fare. Would he heat up and morph into FRIED RICE?

Eatthis.com

Or would he miss everything? Well, in Saturday’s matinee affair against the Orange, he…did a bit of both? Kaiden attempted 15 shots. All 15 of those shots were from beyond the arc. He hit five of them. His first few threes kept us in the game early against the zone, but then he hit a cold spell until…. he hit a MASSIVE “put your junk on the table” go-ahead three-pointer with a minute to play and the shot clock at four seconds.

In the words of Kente Korner’s very own Marcus Washington during the postgame emergency pod (and yes, I listened to it and took notes, fam): “It was almost like the defense was ‘I hope he misses’…and he didn’t miss.”

It was the most electric moment of the game, and for that, FRIED RICE deserves all the love.

Giphy

But also, maybe a little constructive criticism? Against ‘Cuse, Kaiden played 35 minutes, but only had one rebound, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks, and zero free throws. Being a sharpshooter is all well and good, but to keep defenses honest, he’s gonna need to round out his game a little more.

We’ve already noted that all 15 of Kaiden’s shots were three-point attempts. Well, how about this stat? For the season, Kaiden has attempted 104 shots and 90 (!) of them are threes. Again, we love it when he makes them and we’re ecstatic when he makes them against the Orange; but for this team to take its play to the next level, we need to see better decision-making.

The “Buddy Boeheim’s Real Name is Actually Jackson” Award:

Jackson Boeheim.

Hey man, if his momma named him Jackson, Imma call him Jackson.

I mean, seriously. Who thought it would be a good idea to call this kid Buddy? He’s not f*cking Will Ferrell in “Elf”.

On second thought…. hi Jim and Buddy!

Scenesmedia

The “Beard” Award for Being a Sneaky Good, Heady Teammate Award:

Tyler Beard.

We see you, Tyler Beard. In ten minutes of action, the Beard didn’t score any points, but he played under control, dished out four assists, and just looked increasingly comfortable with the ball in his hands.

Keep grinding, TB. You may share Tom Brady’s initials, but unlike Tom Brady, we do not hope you get hit by a bus. Wear that #3 like AI and keep representing Chicago with that same ferocity and toughness we know you have.

In the words of Ted Lasso’s heady sidekick, for which this award is named: “Horticulture, baby!”

The John Thompson Jr. Award for Excellence in Coaching Award:

Georgetown University Hoyas Men’s Basketball

Not Jim Boeheim.

Syracuse v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Thank you, Jimmy B., for stubbornly refusing to keep playing a zone against us. We appreciate it. Georgetown has famously struggled against most opponents this year. Sometimes because we’re too impatient. Sometimes because we only play at one speed: extremely f*cking fast. Sometimes because we’re just too young and inexperienced.

On Saturday, Boeheim did us a favor by sticking to his zone, forcing us to be patient, and letting the whole world know, yet again, that if there’s one team in the country that knows how to break Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone, it’s Georgetown (especially with our inside man Louis Orr on the bench).

Syracuse is the same team they always are. A bubble team who will somehow make the Tourney as an 11 seed and then improbably advance to the Sweet 16 because no one understands how to break their zone. Except for us. We know how, so thank you.

Compare Boeheim’s approach to Ewing’s. For all of Ewing’s coaching boo-boos in recent years (and yes, there have been a few), at least he adjusted. In the second half, he decided to go small. Wilson and Mutombo didn’t see much of the floor. Dante played alongside Beard and other guards, while Holloway somehow anchored the middle.

Side note: Not bad, Collin Holloway. Not bad at all. Love the savvy play, love the body control. Jamorko was right.

Good adjustments, Coach Pat. Now if only we could cut down on our turnovers and improve that perimeter defense….

The Model UN Award:

Aminu Mohammed.

How many of you were aware of the fact that Georgetown’s latest rising star has a name that is awfully close to the UN Deputy Secretary-General’s?

It’s true. Her name is Amina Mohammed. She is also Nigerian. And a wonderful public servant.

Hybrid press briefing on the UN Food Systems Summit by... Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Syracuse may have all of the sports broadcasters. But when it comes to Model UN, Georgetown has all of the awards. ALL OF THEM.

naimun.modelun.org

The Official Hard Seltzer of Georgetown Basketball Award:

Truly.

Because Truly is the official hard seltzer of Georgetown basketball.

The University of Maryland Student Section Award for Obnoxious Chants:

Your Georgetown University student section?

The Hoya via GIPHY/GIFILUMINATION

Look, I get it. This was truly the most memorable Georgetown home game in at least a couple of years. People are tired of the corona and the losing and the lockdowns and the general terribleness that has accompanied the last 18 months.

But that doesn’t excuse some of the chants on Saturday, which were, honestly, kind of bush league. The “safety school” chant was obnoxious, the “overrated” chant was nonsensical (no one thinks Syracuse is any good), and the “f*ck you, Boeheim” chant, while mildly entertaining, was a bit classless. You’re better than that, Hoya fam.

That said, I loved the student turnout. And loved the overall environment. The team deserves it. And the students deserve it.

Unrelated note: I also love the fact that my final plate at the Farmers and Distillers award-winning buffet consisted of mini doughnuts and fried shrimp. Because I am awesome at eating.

Image

The Aminu Mohammed Award for Elbowing Joe Girard in the Mouth Award:

Aminu Mohammed.

BIG EAST

Yeah, he gets THREE awards today. The elbow may have been inadvertent, but we enjoyed the aggressiveness (and fine, the result too). If Aminu keeps on this trajectory, he has the potential to be as smooth as Otto, as tough as Jabril, and as heady as Jeff Green.

Bill Raftery compared him to Karl F*cking Malone! Which, to be fair, seems ludicrous, but also….in his short-lived career, there’s no denying that, like Karl Malone, Aminu has always seemed to DELIVER.

SLC Dunk

The 2019 Georgetown Futbol Team Award for Excellence in Futbol:

Your 2021 Georgetown Futbol Team.

Soccer Wire

It’s become something of an increasingly depressing joke over the last five years – that Georgetown is no longer known as a basketball school, but is now better known as a futbol school – but, well, it’s kind of true?

Kudos to Coach Brian Wiese and the Hilltop’s soccer lads for turning the program around and putting on a number of inspiring performances to emerge as one of the hottest and most consistent programs in the country.

After winning its first-ever national championship in December 2019, your Hoyas advanced to the College Cup (the final four) once again this year, before bowing out to Washington in the semis. As much as it hurt to lose a match to a (probably inferior Huskies squad), your Hoyas should be proud of everything they accomplished. From speedy runs by Zach Riviere to smooth passing by midfielder Sean Zawadski, the Hoyas dazzled. When Marlon Tabora scored a hat trick, we smiled. When Dante Polvara drilled yet another PK in front of our home crowd, we cheered. And when goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis (the Greek Freak of NCAA soccer) made another epic game-winning save, we celebrated.

Most importantly, when freshman Joe Buck drilled home a game-winning PK against the hated Mountaineers of West Virginia (avenging our loss in the 2010 BET finals) to allow the Hoyas to advance to the College Cup, it made us realize that perhaps “Joe Buck” is no longer one of the most reviled names in sports?

Wikipedia

The fact that I didn’t need to look up any of these players’ names before drafting that last paragraph is a testament to what the soccer program means to the university these days. I even attended a road game (a dominating win at Seton Hall).

Keep up the good work, dudes. We love it.

The Rocky IV Award for Seeing Three of Them Out There:

Your Georgetown Hoyas.

Call me crazy, but I think I saw three Boeheims on the court at the same time. It was a Boeheim triple decker. A Boeheim sandwich, with bright orange Russian dressing and creamy cole slaw. It was all we could do to prevent the vomit from bubbling up in the back of our collective throats.

If the Hoyas appeared confused by halftime, trailing by ten points, and looking dour, we believe the coaching staff rectified the situation with a few words of advice from Paulie Pennino: if you’re seeing three of them out there, just hit the one in the middle.

The Dikembe Mutombo Award for Being a Dominant Georgetown Big Man Award:

Open Court

Ryan Mutombo?

I see you, Ryan Mutombo. You are not the gangly “Roy Hibbert’s freshman year” big I expected you to be. Wahab’s unexpected transfer and Big Tim’s injury have created an opening for you to get some run. And thus far, call me pleasantly surprised. I like your toughness and overall game awareness. Sure, your best game was against a middling UMBC team, but I’ll take those 14 points and 11 rebounds any night.

You still have a long way to go but keep working hard and good things will happen. And please, don’t give up that baseline anymore, big fella.

Side note: when the cameras focused on Dikembe wagging his finger, my daughter asked me who he was. “That’s Ryan Mutombo’s dad.”

By the way, this is still possibly the greatest video on the Interwebs:

The Oscar the Grouch Award for Living in Trash:

32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Show Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown/WireImage

The ACC.

Seriously, you guys. The ACC is trash. For those not keeping score at home, here are the early returns:

Syracuse has lost to Colgate and, ahem, Georgetown.

Pitt has lost to Monmouth, UMBC, and The Citadel.

Virginia has lost to James Madison and Navy.

Boston College has lost to Albany, St. Louis, and Rhode Island.

Louisville just lost at home to DePaul.

Miami has lost to UCF and Dayton.

Georgia Tech has lost to Miami of Ohio.

And I know, I know. Georgetown hasn’t exactly been playing inspiring basketball for the better part of this early season (just ask St. Joes or f*cking Dartmouth). But glass houses be damned. It shouldn’t take away from the fact that, truly, the ACC is straight-up garbage. The so-called “super conference” has devolved into a super carcass. But yay, football and money!

I’m gonna make T-shirts and sell them like hot cakes. Everyone will want them. Because it’s true. The ACC is trash.

Here’s a haiku, in case it helps:

ACC is trash

Syracuse just lost again

ACC is trash

You’re welcome, America.

The San Francisco Forty Niners Award for Being Over .500 Award:

Your Georgetown Hoyas.

Don’t look now, but somehow, (improbably), your Georgetown Hoyas, like the scrappy Niners, are now over .500 on the season. Is this impressive? No. Worthy of celebration? Nope.

But still, for as bad and inconsistent as we’ve looked all season, are we the MOST DANGEROUS 5-4 team in the country?

The Cousin Greg Award for Going Out on Top Award:

Town & Country

NY Hoya.

Spoiler Alert, if you haven’t seen the last episode of Succession (the most comically tragic show on television), please skip the next paragraph and go to the next one.

Like Cousin Greg, who is juggling relationships between two beautiful women, and might marry a member of Luxembourg’s royal family, and, ahem, is about to work his way up from “the endless middle” to “the bottom of the top”, your old pal NY Hoya is going out on top.

This seems like the right time. Twenty years ago, as a senior in college I started penning an email/newsletter called “Games That Matter”, which blossomed into something more polished, and then SwordofBrunner and I took the baton from Mr. Casual Hoya and worked on these Awards and other odds and ends for the better part of the last decade.

There have been good times, frustrating times, and of course, some absolutely glorious times.

After 20 years, this seems like the right time to call it quits. It just feels like I’ve come full circle. Nearly twenty years ago, in February 2002, Syracuse dedicated its court to Jim Boeheim in front of the largest crowd to watch a game that season. The only problem? Its opponent that day was Georgetown. And we spoiled the dedication ceremony by squeezing the Orange behind solid showings from dudes like Gerald Riley and Mike Sweetney and Wesley Wilson. It’s true. You can read all about it here.

Gerald Riley rests

(By the way, much love to Big Mike for crushing it on the sidelines of Yeshiva University!)

YUMacs

Right around February 2002 is also when I started drafting these missives. Now, twenty years later, Georgetown just dedicated its home court to another Big East legend, Mr. John Thompson Jr. himself. Only this time, despite Syracuse’s best efforts, the party wasn’t spoiled.

In front of a raucous crowd – truly the first “real” crowd since before the pandemic began (when Mac McClung was still on the team) – this was a treat to watch in person. On an unseasonably warm December afternoon (shouts to global warming for delivering some heat), your Georgetown Hoyas took a page out of the ol’ storybook to put the frustrations of this season behind them and deliver a truly memorable W for our fans.

NNY360/J. Newton/WaPo

To be fair, this season has already been long and frustrating. And the last seven years have been just as long and frustrating (save for one epic 2K21 BIG EAST TOURNAMENT REVENGE TOUR, obvi). But despite the false starts and inconsistent play, at least for one day, against a team that is (still) our biggest rival, and in front of Patrick and Alonzo and Dikembe, and Charles Smith and Jack DeGioia and Casual Hoya himself, and yes, even THREE Boeheims, your Georgetown University Barking Bulldogs won one for Big John.

Patrick Ewing with Coach John Thompson

As my daughter and I embraced after what was unquestionably the best live sporting event she’s ever attended in her short life, everything felt, at least for one afternoon, decidedly normal again. My last two editions of these Awards will follow two epic wins (our victory over Creighton to improbably win the BET and our Syracuse smackdown against all three Boeheims on JT Jr.’s court dedication day). So, this seems like a fitting time to pass the keyboard to someone else. Coach Thompson may be gone, but the spirit of the program lives on.

Thank you, Georgetown. Now, please, let’s not f*ck it up and lose to Howard.

Let’s go Hoyas. Beat Everyone.