CHICAGO – And just like that, after 32 games, it’s over.
But for the Georgetown seniors, it’s really over.
Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, Julian Vaughn and Ryan Dougherty enjoyed their final victory as Hoyas on Feb. 19 at South Florida but then went through the final month of their collegiate careers knowing nothing but defeat. The loss to VCU on Friday in the NCAA tournament — the final nail in Georgetown’s coffin — left the four members of the senior class weighing the end of their final season as well as the end of their college careers.
“I feel like me, Chris, Julian, Ryan, we did what we can to try to help this program,” Freeman said as he held back tears. “We did the best we can, plain and simple. That’s it.”
Playing together for the last three years, the four seniors spent numerous weeks in the top 25 but did not win an NCAA tournament game and compiled a 60-37 overall record. As freshmen, Wright and Freeman were members of the team that defeated UMBC in the first round.
In the moments following VCU’s resounding victory, no one was at more of a loss for words than Freeman.
“Right now I can’t even talk,” he said. “It’s just real tough right now. It’s tough to think about [my four years] right now after we just lost.”
Vaughn was only slightly more able to explain the feeling.
“It’s disappointing, I guess, to have such high hopes and confidence coming in and to go out like that, especially it being my last game ever,” he said.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Dougherty said. “It’s disappointing to say the least, because you kind of feel like you worked pretty hard all year and to have things slip away a little too early. … I think that everyone in this room thought that we were going deeper than we just did. It’s just really disappointing.”
Vaughn and Dougherty will more than likely not play professionally. Freeman could be a late second-round pick in the NBA draft, and while Wright will probably go undrafted, he could have a chance to catch on with a team or decide to play overseas.
Regardless of each player’s basketball future, their days playing for Georgetown are officially behind them.
“I think I’ll remember a lot of the good times that we had,” Dougherty said. “On the road and in practice, the good days and the bad. We’ve seen some good things happen the last three years I was here and the four years that [Wright and Freeman] were there — winning in the Carrier Dome and beating Duke. I think you just remember the good times more than the bad as time goes on.”
Much has been made of the long-time friendship between Wright and Freeman, but all the seniors — including Vaughn — will miss the connections they shared with their teammates and other members of the program.
“The friendships and relationships I’ve built with all the people I guess, not even just on the court [but] off the court,” Vaughn said. “It’s been a good three years, but it’s time to move on.”
Their team may have faltered in March, but as Wright, Freeman, Vaughn and Dougherty sat in silence in their locker room at the United Center, it was clear that more than basketball was on their minds. In the end, like the 1,578 other seniors in the Georgetown Class of 2011, they were trying to figure out how the years can pass so quickly.