For us seniors, calling the last four years of Georgetown basketball a disappointment would be a severe understatement. We arrived on the Hilltop the year after a trip to the Final Four, with almost all of the roster returning and two McDonald’s All-Americans in Austin Freeman and Chris Wright joining them. Before the season started during our freshman year, the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2008 — Greg Monroe — announced he would be attending Georgetown.
We were all expecting to see a national title contender during our freshman year, and then experience a smooth transition as the “old” generation of Roy Hibbert (COL ’08) and Jonathan Wallace (COL ’08) would be replaced by Wright, Freeman and Monroe. And things started off according to plan. We won the Big East regular season title in 2008 and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. But ever since the second-half barrage of three-pointers by Stephen Curry, Hoya basketball hasn’t been quite the same.
Following that surprising second-round exit in 2008, next year’s Hoyas went from the top 10 in the country to missing the NCAA tournament altogether. An up-and-down season during our junior year ended with a promising run to the Big East tourney finals and then an ignominious exit to Ohio in the first round of the NCAAs. And senior year saw yet another inconsistent team that again fell to a hot shooting mid-major in our NCAA tournament opener.
But if the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about the last four years is disappointment, the second should be recognition of the fact that Georgetown basketball has become relevant again. Our team had the potential to beat anyone on any given night — as top 10 teams like UConn, Duke and Missouri learned — and these big wins gave us a great reputation (sometimes undeserved) in the basketball media. Long winning streaks added intrigue around the team, as pundits often wondered whether our Hoyas had finally figured it out. And with the Wizards in bad shape and the Terrapins struggling, the Hoyas remained the unquestioned center of the D.C. basketball world. Presidents, former presidents, vice presidents and speakers of the House were spotted frequently at our games.
Georgetown’s challenge over the next four years will be to stay relevant. People are not going to keep hyping us up forever. A continued failure to advance in the NCAA tournament will diminish the program’s reputation and potentially result in a prolonged period of mediocrity, like what we saw from the late ’90s to the mid-2000s.
Despite the return of junior guard Jason Clark and sophomore forward Hollis Thompson, next year’s team has flaws so severe that simply making the NCAA tourney will be a very difficult task. The Hoyas will have to deal with a new and untested point guard, a complete lack of low-post scoring and almost no experience coming off the bench. So give next year’s team a pass; but the year or two after that must see some serious improvement. If Andre Drummond, the No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2012, comes to Georgetown, that would be a huge boost to the program. Without him, less-heralded recruits like Otto Porter, Tyler Adams and Mikael Hopkins will have to develop into stars for Georgetown to contend in the Big East.
If it’s 2013 or 2014 and we’re talking about how it’s been six or seven years since we made a run in the NCAA tournament, major changes will need to be made, going all the way up to the top. Georgetown’s greatest asset is its aura, fueled by its storied history, its location in the nation’s capital and its tradition of producing excellent big men. These attributes give Georgetown the status and the prestige it needs to lure top talent from across the country. But without wins in March, this aura of greatness will fade and Georgetown’s status as a first-tier program will be threatened.
Four more years like the last four won’t keep Georgetown from sliding down the ranks of the elite programs. During our time here, people often noted that Georgetown didn’t consistently play with a sense of urgency. It’s incumbent on this program to produce better results, and accountability must be shared by everyone. As we move on from the Hilltop, we have every right to have high expectations for our Hoyas. The last four years were disappointing, but we have a lifetime of Hoya basketball to look forward to. Let’s hope it reaches its potential once again.
Parimal Garg is a senior in the College. This is the final installment of Taking the Court.