Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Admiting My Dirty Basketball Secret

I have a confession to make. Yes, I know that this is a risky thing to do ” it’s only my second column here, and I should probably wait a little while before revealing any embarrassing secrets. But as Saturday’s contest with a certain conference rival approaches, I have to say it.

I used to be a Villanova fan.

To be fair, I was just a little kid rooting for the local team. ost of the kids in my class throughout elementary school wore Villanova jackets during recess, while they sang the praises of former Wildcat sharpshooter Kerry Kittles. Since the children of former coach Steve Lappas also attended my school, any big Nova win was cause for a small holiday.

Every time the Wildcats appeared in the NCAA Tournament, teachers would cancel class, and we’d huddle around a big television set to watch OUR team and occasionally shout a quick ‘Let’s go Nova!’or ‘V for Victory!’None of those Nova teams of the mid-1990s even managed a Sweet Sixteen appearance ” despite an embarrassment of talent ” but our allegiance to the Wildcats was unwavering.

As I got older, I began to see the error of my ways. Eventually, for a variety of reasons, I ditched Villanova and its eyesore of a gymnasium for the greener pastures of the University of Pennsylvania and its home arena, the Palestra ” college basketball’s equivalent of Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field. It was there that my antipathy toward all things Villanova began.

You see, Villanova is like the great Philadelphia delicacy of scrapple ” it’s best to know as little as possible about it. Maybe it was the way Villanova kicked Coach Lappas, a good coach and nice guy, to the curb. Maybe it was my knee-jerk dislike of replacement coach Jay Wright. Maybe it was my love for the affable and goofy Phil Martelli, coach of Villanova’s archrival, St. Joseph’s (it doesn’t help that Martelli spoke at my high school during the Hawks’ miraculous 2004 campaign). Whatever it was, by the time I decided to attend Georgetown, even driving by the Villanova campus would make me cringe.

My own personal antipathies beside, there’s one very good reason why every Hoya should hate the Wildcats even more than the Syracuse Orange ” the 1985 national championship game.

This Saturday, I, like most of you, watched our Hoyas thump arquette in a game that Georgetown essentially controlled from wire to wire. The game was nice, but for me, the highlight came at halftime, with the presentation of Georgetown’s all-century team. In addition to the bevy of talented yet obscure players who excelled in the antediluvian days before ESPN SportsCenter, we all had the honor of seeing the likes of Fred Brown, Michael Jackson, David Wingate, Craig Shelton and Patrick Ewing. These Hoyas were the ones who garnered the loudest applause ” and rightfully so. After all, it was Ewing and Co. who took the Hoyas to our only championship to date some 23 years ago.

That 1984 team, as good as it was, probably wasn’t even the best Georgetown team of the decade. By all accounts, the 1985 Hoyas were supposed to rule college basketball from November to April. The team essentially owned the No. 1 ranking all season, aside from a few weeks when conference rival St. John’s held the top spot. After Georgetown trounced St. John’s in the infamous ‘sweater game,’the Hoyas seemed to have a clear path to a second consecutive title ” the first time that would have occurred since the end of the UCLA dynasty of the ’60s and ’70s.

We all know how it went from there. Georgetown barreled through the tournament, steamrolled St. John’s by 18 in the semifinals and was the heavy favorite against Villanova. In a boring, slow-paced game, however, Nova missed only one field goal in the entire second half, and David downed Goliath, 66-64.

Think for a second about what might have been. Imagine for a second that Georgetown had solved the puzzle of Rollie assimino’s Wildcats. Since the end of the John Wooden era at UCLA only one team ” the 1991 and 1992 Duke Blue Devils ” has repeated as NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball champions. A lot of weak teams have won the tournament ” the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack, the 1985 Wildcats and the 1988 Kansas Jayhawks come to mind.

Any team can win one title, but to win two in a row would have elevated Georgetown to the level of Bill Walton’s Bruins, Bill Russell’s San Francisco Dons and Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils. Players like Ewing, Jackson and Horace Broadnax deserved better than to become victims to a team led by the likes of Ed Pinckney and Gary McLain (who played in the semifinal against Memphis while on cocaine).

There’s obviously a lot of history between us and Syracuse ” beginning, of course, when John Thompson ‘closed’Manley Field House by beating the Orangemen in 1980. Yet only one team denied the Hoyas the chance to become a true dynasty ” and Jim Boeheim didn’t coach it.

So on Saturday, I’ll be watching the game, cheering even more boisterously than usual ” not just for Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, but for Patrick Ewing, ichael Jackson, Horace Broadnax and David Wingate ‘ Hoyas who deserved better than second place.

Brendan Roach is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached at THE LOSING STREAK appears every other Tuesday in HOYA SPORTS.

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