In this semester debut of “Halftime on the Hilltop,” Hoya sports writers reflect on what has been a tumultuous basketball season thus far (to say the least). Demi Pappas (COL ’24) and Caden Koontz (SFS ’23) sit down with Carrie McDonald (COL ’24), author of the column “The Equalizer,” to discuss the absurdity of the disparate fan ban policies for men and women’s basketball, which has occurred during the athletic department’s year-long “Georgetown Women in Sports” campaign.
We look ahead to an exciting lacrosse season. John Nelson (COL ’22) makes a mid-game appearance after triumphing over a close call with COVID-19, and the team analyzes all aspects of our beloved, winless in the Big East, Georgetown men’s basketball team. Caden tells long stories, new deputy editor Conor Geelan (COL ’25) provides fresh takes, and “Halftime on the Hilltop” host Saar Shah (MSB ’24) turns 20!
DP: Welcome to Halftime on the Hilltop. I’m your host Demi. You are listening to our sophomore season, where we are going to have more guests — Washington Post reporters, Georgetown commits, athletes, students — and even more Georgetown sports talk. In the studio today, which is an MSB breakout room, we have myself, Saar.
DP: Who has recently been promoted to senior editor. Caden, who has not risen in rank at all.
CK: Devastating. I’m catching strays in this intro.
DP: And Conor Geelan, a new deputy editor.
SS: Alright, so today we are going to talk primarily about women’s and men’s basketball. There has been a lot of intrigue in both programs, both on and off the court.
DP: A lot of tea.
SS: A lot of tea, and we have a columnist Carrie McDonald (COL ’24), who wrote an article about the disparate fan ban policies between the two programs, and she’s going to talk about that a little bit.
DP: While we are mostly going to be talking about men’s and women’s basketball, the lacrosse season is starting. It started last weekend, actually, they started out with a scrimmage against UMBC I believe, a 0-0 tie. If you look at their schedule, they are playing some of the best programs in the country. They also are one of the best teams in the country. So they had eight players named All Preseason Big East, including defensive player of the year Owen McElroy (GRD ’26).
DP: Stay tuned to hear more about lacrosse in the coming episodes
CK: So we are here with Carrie, who is a sports writer for The Hoya like we all are. Carrie, can you just start by introducing yourself.
CM: Hi, I’m Carrie, I’m a sophomore in the college, and at The Hoya I write mostly about women’s sports.
DP: Carrie actually is underselling herself. She has an amazing column, “The Equalizer,” and so she mainly focuses on women’s sports, I’d say mainly women’s soccer. She recently published an article in The Hoya about the disparate fan bans for basketball programs and how it sparked backlash and allegations of sexism. Immediately, when we were looking at the recent articles that had been published in The Hoya this stood out. So can you just tell us more about what is going on?
CM: During the month of January, since the women play at McDonough Arena on campus, they weren’t allowed fans because on campus indoor events were banned because of public health guidelines. But because the men play at Capital One, it’s technically off campus, so the university did not have any jurisdiction about whether the students were allowed to go.
DP: So there were five women’s games at home, in January, at McDonough Arena, and we were all back on campus, and no one was allowed to go. Meanwhile, there are men’s games being played at Capital One arena and everyone’s flocking out there
CM: And I think what did it was that Georgetown University Athletics sent emails promoting the men’s games, they sent buses encouraging students to go, which kind of highlighted how unequal it was. Especially the men’s game that was rescheduled was originally meant to be New Years Day but it was postponed because of COVID and was moved to McDonough. The men were allowed to play in McDonough before the women, which I think is what really drove the point home and highlighted the issue. And I think that’s when people started talking about it on social media and raising the concern.
DP: Well thank you so much for coming on the show Carrie, we loved discussing this with you. I mean, love talking to you, hate that we have to talk about this.
DP: So this past Saturday, Georgetown played Providence and we lost. What was the score?
CK: It was a close one.
CG: Caden, you were there, right?
CK: Yeah, I was there, the few of the crowd at the game. We had a Hoya sports brunch before with about 20 people there and I think only four actually came to the game.
DP: Stop exposing us.
CG: Those bagels were fire by the way. Shout out to Call Your Mother.
CK: It was worth going just for the bagels, but back to the point. So I went to the game. Got on the second bus, I was still on the second row off the court, so not a great look for attendance.
CG: It was close most of the time.
CK: Yeah, we were up at halftime. Okay, this is so distracting.
DP: Is he positive? I thought he was saying thumbs up because he tested negative.
SS: What does thumbs up mean?
DP: Okay, come in then. Entering the studio is John Nelson (COL ’22). Fresh off a negative test. So John texts us this afternoon saying he can’t come on the show because he was exposed, to which we then tell him “don’t come,” and then he texts me “I’m pulling up.”
CK: John, you were there as well. It was really demoralizing.
JN: It was … they couldn’t … they couldn’t buy a bucket the whole second half.
CK: The first half, I really enjoyed myself, thought we might have to storm the court. You know, I thought it was going great.
CG: I feel like we’ve had that a few times this year, like we were up at halftime against Vilanova too, so it’s like significantly better teams or at least better in the standings, and then we have a, you know, like a good first half. But I think as the game progresses, we stop being streaky and the other teams generally are just a little more consistent.
CK: I think being a young team doesn’t help. Also, I think coaching comes into play. I don’t know what you guys think about that, but halftime adjustments are big, I think, especially in college basketball, and it often feels like we come out flat in the second half. But I’m just an armchair analyst. Like I don’t really know what I’m saying.
CG: It almost seems like we play the entire game like it’s the last five minutes of a game in that the game kind of slows down. It’s more isolation heavy, it’s very pick-and-roll focused. And a lot of it’s just guys sat at the top of the key, dribbling the air out of the ball. I remember watching the Villanova game, and it was just so apparent that their offense was so much more fluid than ours. Yeah, and I don’t necessarily blame the guys for pulling up from three sometimes because you know, Kaiden Rice (GRD ’22) is one of the streakiest shooters in the conference. And when he’s on it’s like, oh, like this guy came, it’s like, why isn’t he shooting every possession? In the long run, those things don’t really equate to efficient basketball necessarily,
SS: When Kaiden Rice went ten of eleven against UMBC, like he won us the game single handedly. And it’s maybe the most impressive offensive outbursts we’ve seen from a Georgetown player this season. At the same time, he will take a 35-foot look, you know, guarded by two guys with 25 seconds left on the shot clock. It comes down more so to coaching, especially what you guys said about the second half thing. Like that tells you more, I think, that they’re failing to make halftime adjustments. Sometimes the lineup is confusing. I see a lot of people complaining about lineup adjustments in the second half, especially among the centers, like you see, you know, maybe Mutombo has a good first half. And then he misses like the first sixteen minutes of the second half. He’s nowhere to be seen. And so I think that just like the volatility there is super problematic as well.
CG: By pretty much any metric, our most efficient scorer has to be Don Carey (GRD ’22), take 17 true shooting. Our next highest rotation player it’s like 58% with Collin Holloway (COL ’24), and then Kaiden Rice is right behind him. And so I guess maybe strategy wise, you know, look to get those guys a little more involved, specifically with Don Carey and Collin Holloway. I feel like those are the two guys who play most in the offense, a.k.a. like, they’re not just taking guys off the dribble. I see them most kind of coming off of screens and taking shots.
SS: Yeah, I completely agree carrying Hollaway by far buys into the system more than any other players on the team, in my opinion. Obviously, we don’t know what the system is. It’s pure speculation, but based on watching …
CK: At the end of the day, we’re all just saying stuff.
SS: At the same time, they’re maybe not the most prolific scorers. So like when Dante or Aminu who feels like they have it going on and they don’t. It’s hard to get upset because that’s where most of our offense comes from.
CK: But Don has done a good job, I think creating for himself as well, though, I think there have been times especially the McDonough game I remember, he was essentially taking on St. Johns’ guys, and just taking step back threes and making them for the most part I think he had twenty plus in that game.
SS: Yeah, I actually did want to talk about the McDonough game one because it was a very historic game. Two, you were right. Carey had 23 points and he led Georgetown with 3 of 7 from downtown. So I definitely agree there.
DP: So this past Thursday, on February 3rd, there was a rescheduled Georgetown game against St. John’s at McDonough Arena on campus, right? If you’re on Georgetown basketball Twitter, that’s all like literally anyone talks about, about how you know to win games to have better fan culture. All this stuff. We need an on-campus arena. We need to have games at McDonough arena, they have one Thursday. I personally didn’t go to the game because I had class. But Georgetown sent out an email saying that if you are a season ticket holder you had a ticket to the game but that it was limited capacity so you needed to show up early to guarantee your spot getting to the gym. The next day Georgetown Hoops, the official Georgetown basketball media account posted a tweet , which we have a picture of it on The Hoya link for this episode. It says “special thanks for the students of #HoyaNation who showed up and maxed out the limited capacity crowd last night! We appreciate the continued support from our student fan base across all sports! We see you Hoya Nation. #HOYASAXA,” Four photos. It looks like it’s a completely crammed stadium, you see students all crammed together, you don’t see an empty chair in sight, it looks like a vibe. And then a couple of minutes later, I saw a tweet posted by Jake Foote who I think is sorry, you said he’s a graduate student?
SS: Georgetown graduate, no, he’s an alum ,and I think he wrote for the Hoya sports section!
DP: Jake Foote did a tweet, which we also have a picture of, and the caption was, “I feel empty inside. This is what it has come to.” It is a picture of the gym, where a sixth of the stadium is filled with students crammed into a section. And the rest of it is just empty. Am I describing that right?
SS: That was 100% my experience at the game. Literally the smallest subsection possible was packed. That part was pretty exciting. It was fun to be a part of. The rest of the thing felt like a high school basketball game.
DP: It’s comical looking at this photo.
CK: One thing, two things. Well, first of all, that picture is taken from the side.
DP: This is propaganda that Georgetown is putting out if they’re making it seem like they can’t fill out the stadium because of COVID … And then they smash everyone in together. And they’re all on top of each other. I’m sorry.
CK: Yeah, the Georgetown Hoops post is obviously a little misleading. But it is true that more fans filled in. And it’s also true that because they had limited capacity, a lot of people weren’t able to get tickets, which I think is definitely a mistake on the part of the administration. But it goes to show that it’s not that there wasn’t interest. It’s more just that that was the amount of people that they were willing to let in
CG: Also considering me and Demi had class, I feel like timing-wise, just like especially before they’ve really opened up like now like this week, they’re really opening up everything else, I feel like giving this another opportunity a little bit further, maybe a different time, I feel like we could really get some good energy in there.
DP: The point of the tweet of this week was to make fun of Georgetown. But I guess no one else was on that wavelength.
CK: We’re not going to kick them while they’re down. Oh, they’re 0-10!
DP: I’m mad at the administration for not letting it be full.
CG: Yeah, I agree.
DP: I’m not mad at the team. I’m not mad at Georgetown hoops. I think this is ridiculous. Like I don’t, I just don’t understand the logic and some of the decisions that are being made.
CK: And that’s totally fair. And I’m with you on that. I just think that it felt like some of the Twitter discourse was sort of, especially after Patrick Ewing Jr.’s comments saying that, essentially, the students weren’t doing their job. They weren’t chanting in the correct way. I saw the video, but I don’t remember the exact quote.
SS: Yeah, he essentially insinuated that if we were Gonzaga or Duke students, that we would be much better fans and that they have a much better fan base than we do, which is 100% true. But I guess he seemed to think that it wasn’t correlated with the success of those programs.
CK: And it felt like some of the commentary on this game was essentially saying it’s empty because students didn’t want to come or because you know, the program has fallen so far that students don’t even want to come to a game on campus. I think you’re so right, that it’s more that the problem is that the administration didn’t allow more students to come and also didn’t make the ticket transferable. Again, so ridiculous.
DM: Do you think that Georgetown is in light of Patrick Ewing’s comments about the fan base, do you think that they are going to launch …
CK: Patrick Ewing Jr.
DM: Patrick Ewing Jr.
CG: The first time I heard that someone told me it was actually Patrick Ewing. I was like, oh my god, he’s quitting tomorrow.
DP: Okay, in light of those comments, in light of everything going on I saw this past week that I think it was Coach Crouch, Barty Crouch. I’m kidding. His name isn’t Barty. Coach Crouch was with some students at Wisemiller’s Deli; they bought them free sandwiches and stuff. Did y’all see that?
CK: Ewing was there too.
SS: I think Dante Harris was as well.
CK: He drove to Wiseys. I think he kind of sticks to his part of campus. I could be wrong. I’ve seen him on campus once in, I guess I’ve only been on campus for two years, but I’ve seen him once in my three years as a Georgetown student. Like walking around on campus, I think he probably goes from the parking lot to the Thompson Center back to the park. It’s not like he pops into Leo’s and is like, “hey guys!” I think he knows that he’d get swarmed pretty quickly, often. Matumbo was here for Parents Weekend and he was standing at the food tent, and there was a line of like, 10 people there just waiting to talk to him. And at one point, he was at the front gates. I saw seven different selfies just of people I know who managed to take a selfie with him for the 10 minutes he was at the front gates.
CG: He seems like the nicest guy though. He indulged everyone for sure.
CK: And incredible that he takes the time to like to talk to all these people. He clearly cares a lot about Georgetown.
DM: Ryan is a sweetheart.
CG: Yeah, Ryan’s great.
DM: I love him.
CG: Yeah, he could also just so easily just be a jerk and he’s not.
SS: He actually did a Q&A on Twitter and Tim Brennan (MSB ’24) , another Hoya sports writer, asked him what his favorite moment as a Hoya has been. And he said anytime I can meet new friends on campus.
DM: I think silver linings of the season. I think the first silver lining that comes to mind for me is that I think Dante Harris has really cool shoes. I don’t know if you all follow The Hoya on Twitter. So the way that process works is we come up with the tweets and then we correct them through the copy section and everything. And the other week, John was actually doing the live tweeting for the event. And John’s first tweet that he wanted to tweet was…
JN: Dante has fire shoes. That’s all it was.
CK: They let you post that?
JN: No, they didn’t.
JN: They said can you say something better? But, I feel like as a tweet, we need to have more, full access.
CK: Yeah, that’s one reform I would propose is that we have access to our Twitter but hey, this isn’t gonna pass the institution.
DP: Maybe if we generate listener support.
SS: If you’re reading this, tweet The Hoya and tell them that the sports section needs a control of their own account.
DM: In other news, it was Saar’s birthday last week. So we all thought Saar turned 20 but he was actually one of those kids that skipped kindergarten because he was so smart, so he’s only 19.
SS: Yes, I did not need to do those two- times-twos.
DM: Anyway, so with my time with Saar, working in The Hoya, it’s been an amazing experience. He’s an awesome dude. Last semester had its rises and falls. He was one of the few fallen of norovirus, but he was arguably the MVP at the Hoya-Voice basketball game back in September.
SS: Yes, I took one shot and it rimmed out. That was my one impact on the game in my one minute of play. Conor, meanwhile, on my left here had 25 points. I’d say we made equal contributions.
DP: We just want to wish our beloved Saar a happy birthday, we love you.
SS: Thank you very much. Love you all too.
DP: Alright, so tune in next time to “Halftime on the Hilltop” to hear more Georgetown basketball, lacrosse and you know, just whatever’s going on. Thank you.