Saturday, March 8, 2008

Two Time Champions!

“I knew when he came out with the same suit on that we had a chance.” John Thompson III after the Hoyas defeated Louisville on Saturday to win the Big East regular season title.

Answering the Call

The Hoyas run a “Rival Real” video to pump up the crowd at most home games. Last year these included a Marquette Golden Eagle getting shot down, and a “Friends Don’t Let Friends Cheer for Villanova” spot. This year the videos have been pretty weak, but the final spot of the year was pretty amusing. It was a parody of the Hillary red phone spot with the Georgetown Bulldog answering the phone followed by the question, “Which Hoya will answer the call today?”

And the answer was Austin Freeman whose clutch 3 pointers proved critical. Georgetown shot 54% on 3 pointers in the game and needed every one of those in the close victory.

And the answer was Jessie Sapp whose amazing spin move in the lane for a lay-up remains one of the best “lingerie” plays of the year. (Sadly no one on SportsCenter caught it.) But I could still hear Raftery in my head saying, “He undressed ‘em”

And the answer was Patrick Ewing Jr. whose clutch blocks and steal in the first half were so important that they even received mention in the AP recap of the game.

And the answer was Jonathon Wallace who hit a miraculous spinning jumper in the lane to retake the lead in the final minutes.

And the answer was DaJuan Summers whose 3 pointer in the final minute proved the final margin of victory.

And the answer was Roy Hibbert, who said it well after the game. “I came back for these guys. I came back because I believed in my teammates and believed we could do great things.”

Thank You Seniors

The day had started with a subdued Senior Day ceremony for seniors Tyler Crawford, Roy Hibbert, Patrick Ewing Jr., and Jonathon Wallace who all took pictures with the coach (sans parents). And while I panned the crowd and enjoyed the creative “CHEW Louisville” sign where CHEW was spelled out as Crawford, Hibbert, Ewing, Wallace, and while I saw several “Thank you Seniors” signs, this was not a day to sub the seniors out and give them each a round of applause. John Thompson III needed every minute from his veterans. It wasn’t until the final buzzer sounded and the Big East championship trophy was brought out that JTIII finally got a chance to give one last nod to his seniors. JTIII momentarily held the rest of the team back as he sent the CHEW crew to mid-court to pose with the trophy. And while the seniors may not have received individual applause for all their accomplishments, they received an even greater applause. They received the applause a team receives when they become the first Georgetown team to ever win back-to-back regular season titles.

Verizon Center

A Wizards season ticket holder purchased the tickets next to me and leaned over at half-time. “If this Wizards had crowd support like this, they’d win a lot more games.” The frenetic energy at the end of the first half when Georgetown erased a 4 point deficit was amazing. And what a final possession to end the first half! With Sapp’s defender leaning over one shoulder for a steal, Sapp spun and went past him taking the ball into the lane. Sapp missed the shot, but Hibbert’s put the rebound back in for his only points of the half and a 5 point lead.

I’d also like to credit to the Louisville fans who made the trip to DC. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, DC is a town of transients, and there will always be a good section of road fans. And the Louisville fans were arguably the loudest of the season, chanting C-A-R-D-S after Louisville momentarily took a 1 point lead late in the game.

But I also want to criticize the Louisville guy sitting 3 rows behind me who apparently purchased tickets just so he could yell at his own team. “Jerry, get your head out of your !@#” “Rick, what the hell are you doing? I thought you knew how to coach?!” Look, nobody needs play-by-play at the game. And if it was a Georgetown fan criticizing every Hoya mistake, I’d be irritated enough. But please, when you go on the road to a hostile environment, just stick to cheering for your team, OK?

Full Court Press

Louisville played full court pressure all day and I thought the Hoyas handled it better than they had all season. The key was how they switched up how they handled the pressure. Sometimes Wallace and Sapp played a 2-man game, sometimes they’d throw the long pass to the wings, sometimes they’d find Hibbert coming back in the middle. Unlike some of the other games where they used a predictable style and eventually turned it over excessively, the Hoyas mixed it up enough to limit the number of full court turnovers. The Hoyas still allowed Louisville to get 14 steals, but I counted only 2 that happened in the full court setting.

Final Notes

-Georgetown debuted new uniforms with a reflective gray strip on the edge.

-Someone finally made all 3 shots in the layup, free throw, 3 pointer contest.

-I was going to mention how Condaleeza Rice was at the game, but all the national spots picked up on that. I will say that I was pleased to see that she didn’t duck out early. She stayed until the final buzzer before the Secret Service finally whished her out. And I’d like to mention that Patrick Ewing Sr. was there, but he tried to stay in the locker room to avoid being a distraction. He only came out momentarily at halftime. But Dana O’Neil of ESPN already picked up on that thread. So I’ll just stick with the star that only true Hoya fans can appreciate. After saluting the Seniors, the student section gave one last cheer for Jeff Green’s mom, sitting in her Sonics jersey in the back row of the lower deck. Jeff Green may not be around this year, but this would have been his Senior day, and we still appreciate all that he has done.