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

Winning Tradition Takes Root at GU

The funny thing about sports is that the thrill of victory is what drives virtually every athlete, yet every team but one always walks away a loser. From Little League to NCAA basketball to the NFL, there is one winner every year and a whole lot of losers.

Then again, as a Red Sox fan, I would have probably hung myself by now if I always thought like that. Championships are the end goal of any team, organization or individual, but there is so much more to sports. Such as a quarter-billion dollar contract to play shortstop for the Texas Rangers, but I digress.

Victory is something within the reach of every team, to one extent or another, whether it be the Los Angeles Clippers winning a game against the Vancouver Grizzlies (little victory) or the Yankees going after yet another World Series trophy (big victory).

Often victory impresses in domination, such as the numerous championship performances of Michael Jordan, but sometimes the victory that is most memorable is the one that almost wasn’t (see Nat Burton’s unexpected but much appreciated buzzer-beating layup against Arkansas).

Here on the Hilltop, history has woven victory into the sports vernacular, from the baseball teams at the turn of the century to football teams of the 1940s to John Thompson-led basketball teams. Winning is infectious, and Hoya squads seem to have really caught onto the winning trend as of late from the basketball team’s run to the Sweet 16 to the great success of the lacrosse teams.

There is no doubt that winning comes largely from talent, but it is also an attitude that builds upon itself. There are certain franchises and schools that are known for winning, and every player that wears the uniform knows they have a standard to live up to: UCLA basketball, Notre Dame football, New York Yankees, Boston Celtics.

On the other hand, losing is infectious and can become as much of a standard as winning: The L.A. Clippers are the modern-day prototype, annual cellar-dwellars who see winning not as a standard, but a surprise.

Georgetown’s baseball program seemed headed in this direction until recent weeks, coming off a pair of forgettable seasons and struggling in early-season play, on top of being banished to Maryland to make way for campus construction. A 3-48 record in Big East play over the past two seasons combined with the handicap of being the Big East’s only non-scholarship program had the Hoyas pegged a unanimous dead last in the conference’s preseason poll.

Instead of rolling over, though, Georgetown baseball has fought its way to a 3-4 Big East record, as many conference wins as the team had the previous two years combined. Head Coach Pete Wilk and the team should be proud of what they have already accomplished in the face of adversity, and maybe the groundwork is being laid for a winning program, something unimaginable just a few weeks ago.

Something similar happened with the men’s basketball program over the last two weeks, although not quite as drastic. After three years of NIT visits and the departure of John Thompson, Georgetown basketball suffered a dropoff in success and visibility, leaving Craig Esherick to reclaim the program’s former glory.

Not complacent as the coach of a middle-of-the-road program, Esherick motivated his team using the NIT disappointments of recent years, pushing them to a 16-0 start and eventual Sweet 16 appearance. Instead of flailing in mediocrity like many great teams of the past (Louisville, Houston), the Hoyas reestablished themselves as a force to be reckoned with, featuring a youthful starting lineup with only one senior.

Georgetown will be losing four seniors that saw significant time as part of the 10-man rotation this year, but four heralded freshman will be attempting to fill the holes left behind. With the development of some players that showed flashes this year (Gerald Riley, Wesley Wilson, Victor Samnick) and the addition of a few guys (Courtland Freeman bouncing back from an injury-riddled year, recruits Harvey Thomas and Tony Bethel), the Hoyas will be right back where they belong – the elite of the college basketball world.

Even on campus they now have to share the spotlight with a pair of truly elite programs: men’s and women’s lacrosse. Dave Urick has built one of the most consistent men’s lacrosse programs in the nation, a perennial inhabitant of the top five and ECAC champion that will no doubt add a national championship trophy to the McDonough lobby one of these years.

Women’s lacrosse is the team I follow more closely (my big sister had to hammer something into my head over the years), and they might be the best team on campus thanks to the relentless pursuit of perfection (sorry, Lexus) that Head Coach Kim Simons brings to the field. Ranked No. 2 in the nation prior to a setback on Saturday against Duke (of all the teams to lose to, it had to be the Blue Devils), Simons has set the foundation for a program that will be successful for years to come.

Teams and individuals can be judged by more than wins and championships, but in the end that is what it boils down to. At Georgetown, that thrill of victory is back in the air, and it’s a nice feeling.

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