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Jan. 21, 2008

I rushed the court at the MCI Center twice during my undergraduate years at Georgetown.  The games themselves had little in common--one was a Saturday afternoon tilt in late February, the other a Big Monday context in late January.  The first game required a late spurt to finally put it away for good, while the second was effectively over at halftime.  One was said to have "clinched" Georgetown an NCAA Tournament berth; the other (unbeknownst at the time) featured two teams that would both miss the NCAA Tournament.


There was this one thing they had in common though...


...Syracuse University.


Those two words are why I can more easily recall February 24, 2001 and January 28, 2002 than my parents' anniversary.  That one school is why Demetrius Hunter, Lee Scruggs, and Kevin Braswell are folk heroes in my world and there are no greater villains than Preston Shumpert, Damone Brown, and Jim Boeheim. 


That one small detail tying together two entirely different games 13 months apart is why, on the occasion of 1/28/02, I vociferously defended the practice of rushing the court in late January to an ardently anti-rushing alumnus with one simple, concise argument:


This is different.  This is Syracuse.


Upon further reflection, he saw my point.



Over the past week, I've asked the members of the message board community at HoyaSaxa.com to vote for their favorite Georgetown-Syracuse games of all-time.  After a week of sorting through emails and messages from every generation imaginable, we've finally narrowed it down to the top ten (Surprise! We won all ten of the games!).  Aside from the clear-cut number one choice (which received almost three times as many points as number two), it was an extremely close ballot.

The following are the Top Ten Favorite Georgetown-Syracuse Games of All-Time, as voted by the members of the HoyaSaxa.com community and the Hoop Club Blog staff:


#10: January 28, 2002

Georgetown 75 Syracuse 60 (MCI Center)


The game that produced, for my money, the best student section cheer I have ever heard:




#9: March 12, 1989

Georgetown 88 Syracuse 79 (Big East Tournament Final, Madison Square Garden)


Georgetown's third straight Big East Tournament Finals victory over the Orangemen.  Little did anyone in the Garden know at the time it would be 18 years until the Hoyas would lift the trophy at center court at MSG.


#8: February 25, 2006

Georgetown 68 Syracuse 53 (Verizon Center)


John Thompson III: "[Beating] Duke was nice, this one is nicer. To beat Syracuse when you're Georgetown is important."


#7: March 5, 1979

Georgetown 66 Syracuse 58 (ECAC South Finals, Cole Field House)


Junior Stars John "Ba-Ba" Duren and Craig "Big Sky" Shelton joined forces with frosh phenom Eric "Sleepy" Floyd to knock the "Louie (Orr) and (Roosevelt) Bowie Show" out of the running for the NCAAs.  We made the Cuse guards, Marty Head and Bernie Cohen, look very bad in a most satisfying victory.   (Michael Karam, F '72, L '76, L '81)


#6: March 8, 1987

Georgetown 69 Syracuse 59 (Big East Tournament Final, Madison Square Garden)


Reggie and the Miracles complete a three-game season sweep over Seikaly, Douglas, and Coleman, the eventual National Runners-Up.


#5: February 24, 2002

Georgetown 75 Syracuse 69 (Carrier Dome)


The dedication of Jim Boeheim Court goes about as well as the closing of Manley Field House.


#4: January 24, 1988

Georgetown 69 Syracuse 68 (Carrier Dome)


Charles Smith.  Coast. To. Coast.


#3: March 9, 2000

Georgetown 76 Syracuse 72 (Big East Tournament Quarterfinals, Madison Square Garden)


This was the first victory over Cuse I witnessed live, the first BET I attended, I won a 20-1 bet with my dad, Cuse was #12 and we were unranked, MSG was a madhouse, and I got to see a couple Cuse players cry while bando and I did a lap around the Garden drinking OJ and smoking stogies. Hard to top it in terms of personal experience.  (Doug Herrema, CAS '02)


#2: March 10, 1984

Georgetown 82 Syracuse 71 (OT) (Big East Tournament Final, Madison Square Garden)


Perhaps the most brutal, dramatic and satisfying game that I can ever recall.  Michael Graham gave a taste of things to come in the NCAA tournament by his performance in this game.  I believe that he tangled, among others, with Andre Hawkins, one of the all-time Cuse thugs.  Pearl Washington put on a show that only the Pearl could perform - - making Gene Smith (and any other Hoya who tried to defend him) look bad, very bad).  We were a bit lucky to get this one into overtime, but once we did, as with last year's UNC game, it was all Georgetown.  (Michael Karam, F '72, L '76, L '81)


#1: February 13, 1980

Georgetown 52 Syracuse 50 (Manley Field House)


Six words that defined a rivalry: Manley Field House is officially closed.



Will meeting #83 between the Hoyas and Orange become part of the Top Ten?  You never know, and that's what makes rivalries so intriguing.


Obviously you're going to want to watch this one.  If you can't make it to the Verizon Center, here is your game watching information:


TV: "Big Monday" on ESPN, 7:00pm


Radio: WTEM AM 980 at http://www.sportstalk980.com


Game Watch Parties: http://guhoyas.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/hoya-hoop-club-activities.html



Two Years Later: On January 21, 2006 the Hoyas defeated #1 ranked Duke 87-84 at the Verizon Center--which marked the fourth time I stormed the court at Georgetown's home arena.  I camped out in front of the F Street entrance beginning at 10:30pm on January 20, 2006 with an intrepid group of about 20 students from the student spirit group Hoya Blue.

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the game, I wrote an article for HoyaSaxa.com recounting my experiences that day.  You can read it here: http://www.hoyasaxa.com/sports/backpage/hawkes_12107.htm


We jokingly called ourselves "Team Moderate Temperature" because of the mild weather that night (a previous group of campers for the 2004 Duke game was nicknamed "Team Ice Cold").  As I type this, the temperature on my balcony across the river from Washington DC is 19 degrees.  To all the students getting an early jump on the line at the Verizon Center tomorrow--stay warm out there!


Let's make it a memorable one tomorrow--as if all Georgetown-Syracuse games aren't.


John Hawkes (SFS '04)

Proud Member of Generation Burton

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