Hoya Hoop Club Blog
Jan. 23, 2007
It's All About the Necktie
You have to understand--I was a bit afraid of traveling.
I'm rather superstitious when it comes to my Georgetown fandom. There are any number of routines or actions I've developed over seven years as a Hoya supporter to guide the invisible hand that frees up backdoor cuts, breaks zone presses and taught Roy Hibbert his post moves. I wear my "Nat Burton is My Homeboy" shirt the night before every game. I touch my hat before I put my arms up for each Georgetown free throw (my Class of 2004 pin is attached to one hat for this purpose). I once played the same song immediately before I left my apartment for the MCI Center for an entire season.
Some folks would suggest that given Georgetown's five-year tournament drought between my freshman year and last season, I should probably have tried new superstitions.
I was way ahead of them.
I like to tinker with my routine--making subtle adjustments in the hope that I'll stumble upon the elusive combination that brings a National Championship to the Hilltop.
One season, I found a Vermont state quarter on the sidewalk prior to a home game. Georgetown won the game, and the coin became my new lucky charm. Until I lost it at a game a few weeks later.
This past December 2nd when Georgetown traveled to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on Duke University, I methodically scanned old picture albums and videotapes and scoured my closet in search of the exact set of clothing I wore when I camped out on F Street last season prior to Georgetown's epic 87-84 victory over the Blue Devils. I gave up when I couldn't find my warm pair of socks. Predictably, the Hoyas lost.
After that game, sensing that a struggling Georgetown team and a questioning fan base needed a boost, I resolved to do something about it.
I started wearing a necktie to games.
And the Hoyas won. And won again. Ultimately, Georgetown reeled off seven consecutive victories over the course of the next five weeks, thanks in part to a blue and gray piece of neckwear.
But the last time the Hoyas took the floor at the Verizon Center, they walked off on the short end of a 56-52 decision to Villanova on Big Monday, extending the Wildcats' unbeaten run during the decade-long history of Georgetown's downtown home.
From 7-0 to cursed.
Being naturally over-reactive to such matters, I could perhaps be forgiven for thinking leading up to last weekend's road trip to East Rutherford, NJ that I was bad luck at Georgetown away games. The last time I'd taken a road trip to see the Hoyas was on the first weekend in March, when I cashed in a free plane ticket and traveled back to my home state. With my family beside me having driven five hours to Tampa for the game, Georgetown fell 63-56 to the South Florida Bulls--who were 0-15 in conference play coming into the final game of the BIG EAST season. A post-game quote from John Thompson III expressed exasperation at his team missing half a dozen layups during the contest. I knew it was somehow my fault for being there ... and for bringing my mother, who had last attended a Georgetown game for Gerry McNamara's game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat the Hoyas in Washington, DC in 2004 and was clearly bad luck.
Still, I'm both a Georgetown basketball die-hard AND a sucker for road trips, so when I heard both the Hoya Hoop Club and Hoya Blue were organizing buses to the Continental Airlines Arena for last Friday night's game against Seton Hall, I jumped at the opportunity.
A vacation day from work in hand, I showed up outside of the McDonough tennis courts early Friday afternoon, "We Are Georgetown" shirt on my back, two extra water bottles in my backpack, and concealing one secret weapon I hoped would reverse my recent ignominious history with road trips: a new necktie. It seemed appropriate--representing Georgetown on the road while wearing a tie emblazoned with a detailed map of Washington, DC (including, I might add, the Verizon Center).
I'd been drafted onto Hoya Blue's "J-Wall Bus," which would be leaving alongside the "Jeff Green Bus." The "Roy Hibbert Bus" would leave 30 minutes later, but much like its namesake during his basketball career, would quickly make up for a slow start and almost effortlessly catch up to the pack. It also hit a game-winning dunk on the Baltimore Beltway.
My favorite part about road trips is being able to reminisce with friends and fellow alums about favorite moments in Georgetown basketball. The first true Hoyas away game I attended was back in January 2004, when my family and I traveled on a bus provided by the Georgetown Club of Palm Beach to watch a thrilling overtime victory over the Miami Hurricanes. Being the only current Georgetown student in the group, I spent most of the bus ride to and from Coral Gables talking with alums from Generation Ewing about their favorite games and memories of Georgetown's campus, and giving them the low-down on what it was like being a student (and a student fan) these days up in Washington.
On the way up to the Seton Hall game, being one of only a few non-students on the bus...I told the South Florida story a few times.
The forty-strong Hoya Hoop Club road trip contingent drove up a modern, sleek looking motor-coach that effortlessly accelerated past us somewhere in Delaware and weaved confidently through traffic. I dubbed it the "DaJuan Summers Bus."
Upon arrival at the Meadowlands, a light snow flurry began to fall from the sky. Given my superstitious feelings about snow and Georgetown games (as I wrote about in a previous blog post), this seemed a very inauspicious sign.
Thankfully, all suspense was quickly taken out of the game by a 10-0 Hoyas run to open play, including five of Hoya Hoop Club bus namesake DaJuan Summers' seventeen points. Game high honors went to Jonathan Wallace and his twenty-one points, which were a hot topic of conversation on the ride home on the J-Wall bus.
It is truly an awesome feeling to travel to an opposing team's arena and see Hoya fans at every turn. Walking through the concourse prior to tipoff, I ran into my fellow Hoop Club blogger Steve Thomas (F'97, G'01), who was in town with several family members. While in line for a much-needed pre-game hot dog and fries, I chatted with a few of Georgetown's hard-working sports promotions staff in town for the game. Then at halftime, I bumped into my recent blog collaborator and charter member of Generation Laughna, former Hoop Club President Michael Karam (F'72, L'76, L'82), who was extremely excited to get back to his home region and watch Georgetown put the hurt on The Hall.
Georgetown was truly well-represented at the Continental Airlines Arena--from the Hoya Hoop Club and Hoya Blue contingents to the regional alumni clubs who sponsored groups to the hundreds of local Georgetown alums who made it out to the arena to cheer on the Blue and Gray. My girlfriend (and Proud Member of Generation Roy) Ali sat with her family in the lower bowl behind Georgetown's bench. She told me that not only did she notice several pockets of Georgetown fans in every section of the arena, but that every time she turned around in Seton Hall's home court, she saw a different classmate she recognized from Georgetown.
Ali also reported that she could hear the cheers from the Hoya Blue faithful in Section 209 all night. Georgetown's official student spirit organization has truly come into its own over the past two basketball seasons, and boisterous, spirited road crowds like the one that invaded East Rutherford on Friday should be a fixture for years to come.
One Seton Hall fan had the following to say:
"Georgetown's students put on a clinic for how it ought to be done. They were there in numbers and in spirit. Granted, they had much to cheer for, but they are on the ball with clear, organized chants and cheers."
Kudos to everyone--from Generation Roy to Generation Fees and everything in between--who made it to the Continental Airlines Arena and made it seem like a home game for the Hoyas.
Georgetown has two important home games this weekend, beginning with tomorrow's 7:30pm clash with the Depaul Blue Demons on ESPN2. As always, you can find me compulsively touching my hat before every free throw in the front row of Young Alum Section 118.
I'm the one wearing the (new) lucky necktie.
John Hawkes (F'04)