It has been one month since the Georgetown Hoyas fell to the University of Colorado Buffaloes 73-96 in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Now that the dust has settled, here are five takeaways from the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball season:
1. The Hoyas outperformed everyone’s wildest expectations.
Big East coaches picked the Hoyas to finish a distant 11th out of 11 teams — well below the DePaul University Blue Demons — Oct. 28. This came after the Hoyas went 5-13 in conference play last year, lost four starters and tried to incorporate nine newcomers in a preseason shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans saw a middling finish with a few conference wins as the Hoyas’ ceiling.
Now, six months later, Georgetown is selling merch based on the “How It Started … How It’s Going” meme, displaying the coaches’s poll on the front and the Big East tournament trophy on the back. This, of course, is an incredible turnaround. The Hoyas earned the title on the backs of leadership from seniors Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair, fiery play from first-year Dante Harris and dominant post performances from former center Qudus Wahab.
2. Georgetown’s run to the Big East Championship was magical.
As a sophomore, I’m relatively new to being a fan of Georgetown basketball, but I know that my friends and I will still be talking about this season for years to come.
Entering the tournament, fans thought that the Hoyas might come away with their first win in Big East tournament play since 2016. The crazy optimists in the group (myself included) even thought that Georgetown could sneak by an injury-ridden first-seeded Villanova team in the second round.
Instead, Georgetown ran over Marquette, Villanova, Seton Hall and Creighton, and the Georgetown community used its team spirit to come together even amid the virtual learning environment. Teachers mentioned the games in lectures, graduates playing in professional leagues around the world tuned in and fairweather alumni fans jumped on the bandwagon. I got texts from friends I hadn’t talked to in months, had Zoom sessions to discuss and even got my little brother (Class of 2029) on the Hoya train.
In the time of COVID-19, the Hoyas winning the Big East title made for a joyful, magical week.
3. Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett are everything Georgetown basketball is all about.
In an interview after the title game, Pickett was asked why he didn’t choose to transfer as part of the mass exodus during the 2019-20 season.
“Coach Pat gave me the opportunity to come here, so why would I back out on him?” Pickett responded.
Pickett and Blair were a part of the first class Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) recruited to Georgetown. The two seniors faced a series of challenges but were able to work their way up to more than 1,000 points each and a Big East championship. Along with graduates Terell Allen (GRD ’20) and Jagan Mosely (MSB ’20), Blair and Pickett have helped Coach Ewing develop a scrappy, high-energy Georgetown basketball culture.
4. The culture is developing.
During the Hoyas’ run, one thing that stood out to me was how much heart the players showed on the court. Dante Harris, for one, was once an unheralded, unranked recruit. When Harris committed to Georgetown, he told 247Sports what Coach Ewing had said to him while on the recruiting trail.
“I don’t recruit players by how tall they are, it matters how big their heart is,” Ewing said.
Ewing’s heart-over-height recruitment strategy paid off later down the line. Harris was an ever-present force on defense, harassing opposing point guards on the perimeter and in the midrange. He showed off a lightning quick dribble-drive and knocked down timely jumpers when opposing defenders sagged off. Down 70-71 against Villanova, Harris took the ball to the rim with 4.7 seconds remaining and was fouled. He then calmly stepped up to the line and made both free throws for a 72-71 win. Harris would later be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Georgetown’s heart really showed through on the defensive end during the tournament. Coach Ewing had his players keeping their opponents in front of them and rotating perfectly as the ball moved around the court, grinding Creighton’s potent offense to a halt. The Bluejays finished with a season-low 48 points and watched Georgetown go on a blistering 34-3 run.
On the bench, the first-year class of T.J. Berger, Jamari Sibley, Collin Holloway and Kobe Clark were on their feet, dancing for joy with Special Assistant Clinton Crouch as the starters sank shot after shot.
The Georgetown culture of “junkyard dogs” (like Jerome Williams) who play with lots of heart is alive and well.
5. This will go down as one of the most memorable Georgetown teams of all time.
Maybe I’m biased, but how could we ever forget this hungry, tight-knit, smooth-shooting group of Hoyas?
Caden Koontz is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Hoya Headlines appears online every other week.