Syracuse 2009: Don't Stop Believing and Other Platitudes from Power Ballads

Feb. 16, 2009

DON'T STOP BELIEVING...AND OTHER PLATITUDES FROM POWER BALLADS

 

10:18pm, Friday the 13th, somewhere outside of Cortland, NY.

 

The bus speakers set to sonic boom levels, Jonathan Cain bangs away on a familiar keyboard riff, and someone climbs atop a cooler.  There will be a sing-a-long.

 

This is the sixth time I've traveled on one of Hoya Blue's buses to a Georgetown away basketball game, and I can't recall once when the experience didn't involve Journey's 1981 uber-power ballad "Don't Stop Believing" being blasted over poor-quality bus speakers.

 

The popularity of Steve Perry and Co. to a bunch of college student basketball fans is unsurprising--Don't Stop Believing pedals the very kind of small-town-girl/lonely-world optimism packaged inside of a soaring chorus that over-exuberant partygoers buy wholesale.  It's the same formula recreated to perfection in the second most popular song on the Hoya Blue Top 40 that was belted out moments before--Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" (which holds an added advantage in that Tommy and Gina almost certainly lived in New Jersey, rather than South Detroit).

 

But is something else at work here?  After all, we at the Hoop Club Blog live in a world in which pop songs are windows into the outcome of basketball games.  As we hurtle through the darkness of I-81 in Upstate New York, is Steve Perry belting out a prediction about tomorrow's Georgetown-Syracuse game?  Is Journey laying the path for Georgetown's journey to the postseason?  Is that girl climbing on top of the cooler taking a metaphoric stand against the negativity of the past few weeks and declaring: we're holding on to that feeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllliiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggggg for the Hoyas?

 

Let me stop you there for one second.

 

I'd love nothing more than to tell you that every Georgetown fan on that bus was holding on to what we've got, that it didn't make a difference to them if we made the NCAA Tournament or not.

 

But it's not true.

 

Hours before, a heated argument broke out in the back of the bus (around the cooler) over whether Georgetown's offense was at the root of the team's recent struggles and...strangely...if the Hoyas and their fifth year head coach should go their Separate Ways.  Were we serious here?  I tend to doubt it--when asked who might replace JTIII in the event such a scenario played out, the most vocal detractor replied with too much of a hint of seriousness that he'd be available for the job.  All the same, the exchange proves if nothing else that even among the self-selecting most dedicated fans of Hoya basketball, anxiety is a real thing.  So too is a lack of recent historical perspective.

 

"Kids these days man," I joked with the pro-Thompson protagonist at a Pine Grove, PA McDonald's whose map indicated our distance from Quebec, "they don't have any idea what it's like to lose."

 

 

What unites generation after generation of "kids" though is the strength of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry. 

 

Soon after Steve Perry belted out his final note, the bus rolled through downtown Syracuse, everyone loudly booing as it passed the Carrier Dome.  The ferocity of mutual hatred between Hoyas and Orange is something rarely seen and rarely sustained for such a long period of time in college basketball.  We'd be lying if we said the matchups held the same weight as they did in the 1980s--for much of this decade it's been rare to see a ranked Georgetown team play a ranked Syracuse team.  But that hasn't bothered the players or fans one bit--when was the last time you saw a home team or home crowd in this series not give their absolute best effort?

 

Say what you will about Syracuse, NY but this is a region that is unconditionally and devotedly behind its college basketball team.  My in-room complementary regional guide at Nameless Highway Motel contains no less than five references to the Orange basketball team--the inside cover displays a picture of Syracuse students storming the court at the Carrier Dome after last year's victory over Georgetown.  Each local news broadcast I catch will mention tomorrow's game.  Once during the weather forecast.  Traffic will be heavy on the downtown highways 75 minutes prior to tipoff.  Everyone I see in their cars will be wearing orange.

 

 

"Please Go to Your Seats.  This is a large crowd."   

 

I couldn't help but think of the three ticket scanners I'd met last season at the Carrier Dome's Gate N, who had an uncanny knack for predicting game attendance (think "Winning Both Showcases on The Price Is Right" close).  They were convinced that day we'd see a season-high attendance standard set, and by golly they were right, as 31,327 fans packed the Dome on 2/16/08.

 

A year later, we did them 514 better--the announced attendance of 31,841 for Georgetown-Syracuse will almost certainly be the highest for a regular-season college basketball game this year (Notre Dame's visit to the Carrier Dome in January drew a hair over 30,000, and only 25K saw the made-for-TV UNC-Michigan State contest at Ford Field).  Amazingly, the 2009 version was only the 10th most attended Georgetown-Syracuse game at the Carrier Dome.

 

This version had a hook though--an "Orange Out" (when was the last time you watched a game at the Carrier Dome and thought "Well, it's nice and all...but it just isn't orange enough."?) that brought those 31,481 out for...well, what the shirts said on the back: FOR REVENGE.

 

Which is a perfect plot for a big budget action movie.

 

A few weeks ago, in a post discussing home court advantage, I wrote the following about Syracuse:

 

The Carrier Dome is the basketball equivalent of a big budget action movie.  It's eardrum-splitting loud, it has a great set, all of the latest special effects, and action sequences that blow you away.  In the end though, it's a decidedly superficial sensory experience.  You leave the theater saying "WOW!" but the experience doesn't linger by the time you get home.

 

There's a reason big budget action movies end up in IMAX theaters more often than arthouses: nobody's going for the acting, or the plot, or the cinematography.  Nobody cares about subtlety--they just want to see stuff explode.

 

Explode they do at the Carrier Dome--but not always when you'd expect.  Sure, the Orange fans are there many times you'd expect them to be: the third of Andy Rautins' first-half three-pointers, any of Jonny Flynn's devilish creations off the dribble, and certainly Eric Devendorf's dual daggers in overtime. 

 

Beyond this though, there's a strange sense you get watching a game in the Carrier Dome that they've all lost the plot.  Arinze Onuaku's made free throws are a cause for mass celebration (Vernon Macklin might have stuck around if he got as much love for finally making a few).  Cuse fans are oddly quiet going into timeouts with a big lead--even during a big run--until the Dome announcer reads off the score.  The Syracuse student section...well, you can't well cheer for your own team whilst constantly looking behind you at the group of 75 Georgetown students in the upper deck.

 

The Carrier Dome at the end of the day still offers the one advantage no other venue in college basketball can match--size.  The crowd was slightly larger (31,814 vs. 31,327) and the scoring run depressingly longer (42-19 vs. 26-4), but the effect the same: it's loud in there.

 

(It's also dangerous in there: the sad subplot of this year's rivalry was the behavior of a few Syracuse fans during the closing seconds of the game.  I'm the fella at the bottom of the screen between :31 and :35 leaning over to retrieve my jacket.  Strangely, I had no idea I was that close at the time to some of the worst incidents.)

 

 

The 42-19 scoring run in question brought the score to 66-50 Syracuse with 8:14 remaining.  Was it loud in the Carrier Dome?  You betcha.  Was the game out of reach?  Sure seemed like it for about 31,739 in attendance.

 

And then the spirit of Steve Perry took over.

 

There's little that would have made anyone but the most fervent Hoya supporter believe that this movie was going to end any differently that the last one, with Georgetown on the short end of another difficult loss in the Carrier Dome.

 

Gradually the Hoyas chipped away at the lead.  With eight minutes to go GTown trailed by 16 points.  With five minutes to go the lead was 9.  With a single minute left, the Hoyas were down by 7 points.

 

But in the upper deck of the Carrier Dome, still they sang.

 

And with 10.7 seconds remaining, Chris Wright tied the game with a three-pointer from the E in SYRACUSE.

 

Talk about livin' on a prayer.

 

 

Are we in Manley Field House-Pearl Washington territory here?  Not really.  The 2009 edition of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry is more properly the sequel to the 1983 contest recently replayed on ESPN Classic that saw Syracuse come back from a 21-point halftime deficit only for Georgetown to snatch victory away in the final minute.

 

Unquestionably though, Saturday's overtime blockbuster added another to the reel of Georgetown-Syracuse classics.  At the very least, it was by far the most compelling and exciting game I've witnessed in 2009. 

 

It's also the most painful...and encouraging.

 

I got the distinct sense that the Hoyas turned a corner as a team with 8:14 remaining in the second half.  Down by sixteen in a hostile environment, no one would have been surprised if the Hoyas had simply faded away down the stretch--let's be honest, they'd done the same against Pittsburgh, Duke, West Virginia, and Marquette. 

 

But they didn't.  Those 494 seconds of basketball were the best 494 seconds the Hoyas have played all season.  There wasn't one single hero--all five Hoyas on the floor during the run scored, and more importantly all five were at long last on the same page.  This was, in the darkest hour of the Georgetown season, at long last the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Nobody wondered on the bus ride home whether Georgetown's offense system was fatally flawed. 

 

Nobody argued they could do a better job coaching the team. 

 

Of course, nobody danced on a cooler either.  In fact, there was nary a power ballad to be found--no one was in the mood for music.

 

Instead, we watched a blockbuster action movie...that one hopes offers a window into the remainder of Georgetown's season:

 

Die Hard With a Vengeance

 

John Hawkes (SFS '04)

Proud Member of Generation Burton

 

More Headlines
Men’s Golf in Seventh Place at Patriot Intercollegiate The Georgetown University men’s golf team is in seventh among 16 teams ... Women’s Golf Finishes Third at Boston College... The Georgetown University women’s golf team finished in third place... Meaghan Nally Named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week Georgetown University sophomore women’s soccer player Meaghan Nally (He... Dodson Named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Georgetown University men’s soccer freshman forward Derek Dodson (Auror...
Shop Now
Auctions

Schedules

September 25
7th of 16
The Patriot Invitational George Mason
The Chantilly National Golf Club - Chantilly, Va.
RECAP
September 25
All Day
Boston College Intercollegiate
Blue Hill Country Club, Boston, Mass.
RECAP
September 26
All Day
The Patriot Invitational George Mason
The Chantilly National Golf Club - Chantilly, Va.
September 28
4:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill.

BEDN
Watch
Live Stats
September 29
2:00 PM
Temple
Cooper Field
September 29
5:00 PM
Potomac Relays diving
McCarthy Pool
September 29
5:00 PM
Potomac Relays swimming
Washington, D.C. (American University)
September 29
6:00 PM
Butler
McDonough Arena
September 29
All Day
Paul Short Run
Bethlehem, Pa.
September 29
All Day
Paul Short Run
Bethlehem, Pa.
September 30
2:00 PM
Harvard
RFK Stadium
September 30
1:00 PM
Marquette
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
September 30
1:00 PM
Delaware/St. Francis Pa.
Newark, Del.
September 30
6:00 PM
Xavier
McDonough Arena
September 30
All Day
MAISA Match Race Championships
Annapolis, Md.
September 30
All Day
Princeton Invitational
Springdale Golf Club, Princeton, N.J.
September 30
All Day
Tom Curtis Regatta
Washington, D.C.
October 1
1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Shaw Field
October 1
1:00 PM
LIU Brooklyn
Cooper Field
October 1
All Day
MAISA Match Race Championships
Annapolis, Md.
October 1
All Day
Princeton Invitational
Springdale Golf Club, Princeton, N.J.
October 1
All Day
Tom Curtis Regatta
Washington, D.C.
October 4
7:00 PM
Seton Hall
South Orange, N.J.
October 5
3:00 PM
Creighton
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 6
3:00 PM
Butler
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 6
2:00 PM
Liberty
Cooper Field
October 7
1:00 PM
Princeton
Princeton, N.J.
October 7
6:00 PM
Villanova
McDonough Arena
October 7
All Day
Navy Fall Womens Intersectional
Annapolis, Md.
October 7
All Day
MAISA Mens Singlehanded Championships
Kings Point, N.Y.
October 7
All Day
Offshore Regatta
Larchmont, N.Y.
October 8
1:00 PM
Villanova
Villanova, Pa.
October 8
All Day
Navy Fall Womens Intersectional
Annapolis, Md.
October 8
All Day
The Gridiron Classic Notre Dame
The Warren Golf Course - South Bend, Ind.
October 8
All Day
Offshore Regatta
Larchmont, N.Y.
October 8
All Day
Occoquan Challenge LW only
Fairfax Station, Va.
October 8
All Day
MAISA Mens Singlehanded Championships
Kings Point, N.Y.
October 9
1:00 PM
Duke
Shaw Field

HoyasLive
Watch
October 9
All Day
The Gridiron Classic Notre Dame
The Warren Golf Course - South Bend, Ind.
October 10
11:30 AM
Keio University
Cooper Field
October 10
All Day
Edean Ihlandfeldt Invite
Sahalee Country Club, Seattle, Wash.
October 11
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
October 11
All Day
Edean Ihlandfeldt Invite
Sahalee Country Club, Seattle, Wash.
October 12
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 13
7:30 PM
Villanova
Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pa.)
October 13
6:00 PM
Providence
Providence, R.I.
October 13
All Day
Wisconsin Invitational
Madison, Wis.
October 13
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 14
12:30 PM
Lehigh
Bethlehem, Pa.
October 14
10:00 AM
Louisville
Sparks, Md.
October 14
11:00 AM
Johns Hopkins
Sparks, Md.
October 14
1:00 PM
Towson
McCarthy Pool
October 14
1:00 PM
Boston University
Sparks, Md.
October 14
2:00 PM
DePaul
McDonough Arena
October 14
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 14
All Day
Yale Womens Intersectional
New Haven, Conn.
October 14
All Day
Pre-National Meet
Louisville, Ky.
October 14
All Day
Luce Regatta
Ithaca, N.Y.
October 14
All Day
Navy Fall Coed Intersectional
Annapolis, Md.
October 15
1:00 PM
Providence
Providence, R.I.

BEDN
Watch
October 15
1:00 PM
Lehigh
Bethlehem, Pa.
October 15
2:00 PM
Marquette
McDonough Arena
October 15
All Day
Navy Fall Coed Intersectional
Annapolis, Md.
October 15
All Day
Luce Regatta
Ithaca, N.Y.
October 15
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 15
All Day
Yale Womens Intersectional
New Haven, Conn.
October 16
All Day
The Georgetown Intercollegiate
Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
October 17
7:00 PM
Maryland
College Park, Md.
October 17
All Day
The Georgetown Intercollegiate
Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
October 19
3:00 PM
Marquette
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 19
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 20
7:00 PM
Navy
Cooper Field
October 20
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 21
2:00 PM
Fordham Family Weekend
Cooper Field
October 21
1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 21
12:00 PM
Uconn
Storrs, Conn.
October 21
7:00 PM
Villanova
Villanova, Pa.
October 21
All Day
MAISA Womens Championships
Bronx, N.Y.
October 21
All Day
Head of the Charles HW/LW
Boston, Mass.
October 21
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 21
All Day
Kings Point Dinghy Open
Kings Point, N.Y.
October 22
1:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.

BEDN
Watch
October 22
9:30 AM
Richmond
Cooper Field
October 22
11:30 AM
Elon
Cooper Field
October 22
12:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Fairfield, Conn.
October 22
2:30 PM
Virginia Tech
Cooper Field
October 22
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 22
All Day
MAISA Womens Championships
Bronx, N.Y.
October 22
All Day
Kings Point Dinghy Open
Kings Point, N.Y.
October 22
All Day
The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate Old Dominion
Kilmarlic Golf Club - Powells Point, N.C.
October 23
All Day
The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate Old Dominion
Kilmarlic Golf Club - Powells Point, N.C.
October 24
All Day
The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate Old Dominion
Kilmarlic Golf Club - Powells Point, N.C.
October 25
2:00 PM
Providence
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 26
2:00 PM
Xavier
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 27
2:00 PM
Villanova
Cooper Field
October 27
7:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
October 28
1:00 PM
Holy Cross
Worcester, Mass.
October 28
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.

BEDN
Watch
October 28
11:00 AM
James Madison
Cooper Field
October 28
11:00 AM
Davidson
Davidson, N.C.
October 28
1:00 PM
Maryland
Cooper Field
October 28
3:00 PM
Stony Brook
Cooper Field
October 28
All Day
Head of the Schuylkill LW only
Philadelphia, Pa.
October 28
All Day
BIG EAST Championships
Kenosha, Wis.
October 28
All Day
BIG EAST Championships
Kenosha, Wis.
October 28
All Day
War Memorial Regatta
Geneva, N.Y.
October 29
1:00 PM
La Salle
Cooper Field
October 29
2:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
October 29
All Day
War Memorial Regatta
Geneva, N.Y.
October 29
All Day
Princeton Chase HW/LW
Princeton, N.J.
October 30
All Day
USF Intercollegiate
TPC Tampa, Tampa, Fla.
October 31
All Day
USF Intercollegiate
TPC Tampa, Tampa, Fla.
November 1
2:00 PM
Creighton
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
November 3
4:00 PM
Rutgers/Pittsburgh/Seton Hall/Villanova
New Brunswick, N.J.
November 3
6:00 PM
St. Johns
McDonough Arena
November 3
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 3
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 3
All Day
ICSA Mens and Womens Singlehanded National Championships
Tampa, Fla.
November 4
2:00 PM
Lafayette Homecoming
Cooper Field
November 4
10:00 AM
Rutgers/Pittsburgh/Seton Hall/Villanova
New Brunswick, N.J.
November 4
6:00 PM
Seton Hall
McDonough Arena
November 4
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 4
All Day
ICSA Mens and Womens Singlehanded National Championships
Tampa, Fla.
November 4
All Day
Head of the Occoquan HW/LW
Fairfax Station, Va.
November 4
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 5
All Day
ICSA Mens and Womens Singlehanded National Championships
Tampa, Fla.
November 5
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 5
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 10
6:00 PM
Marquette
Milwuakee, Wis.
November 10
All Day
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Championships
Bethlehem, Pa.
November 10
All Day
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Championships
Bethlehem, Pa.
November 11
12:00 PM
Bucknell
Lewisburg, Pa.
November 11
All Day
Coed Atlantic Coast Championships
Bronx, N.Y.
November 11
All Day
ICSA Match Racing National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
November 11
All Day
Womens Atlantic Coast Championships
New London, Conn.
November 12
12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Capital One Arena

FSN
TBD
November 12
2:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill.
November 12
All Day
ICSA Match Racing National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
November 12
All Day
Coed Atlantic Coast Championships
Bronx, N.Y.
November 12
All Day
Womens Atlantic Coast Championships
New London, Conn.
November 14
7:00 PM
Howard
McDonough Arena
November 15
7:00 PM
Mount St. Marys
Capital One Arena

FS2
TBD
November 16
7:00 PM
Loyola Maryland
Baltimore, Md.
November 17
10:00 AM
Bucknell Invite
Lewisburg, Pa.
November 17
6:00 PM
Providence
McDonough Arena

BEDN
November 18
1:00 PM
Colgate Senior Day
Cooper Field
November 18
12:00 PM
UMES
Capital One Arena

FSN
TBD
November 18
10:00 AM
Bucknell Invite
Lewisburg, Pa.
November 18
6:00 PM
Creighton
McDonough Arena
November 18
All Day
IC4A Championships
New York, N.Y.
November 18
All Day
NCAA Championships
Louisville, Ky.
November 18
All Day
NCAA Championships
Louisville, Ky.
November 18
All Day
ECAC Championships
New York, N.Y.
November 19
2:00 PM
George Washington
Washington, D.C.
November 19
10:00 AM
Bucknell Invite
Lewisburg, Pa.
November 24
8:30 PM
Auburn
Nashville, Tenn.
November 25
TBA
Richmond
Richmond, Va.

TBD
TBD
November 25
8:30 PM
Chattanooga
Nashville, Tenn.
November 26
3:00 PM
Northwestern
Nashville, Tenn.
November 28
8:30 PM
Maine
Capital One Arena

TBD
TBD
November 29
7:00 PM
Florida International
McDonough Arena
December 3
6:30 PM
Coppin State
Capital One Arena

FS1
TBD
December 7
8:30 PM
Howard
Capital One Arena

FS1
TBD
December 7
7:00 PM
Minnesota
McDonough Arena
December 9
2:30 PM
North Carolina A&T
Capital One Arena

FS2
TBD
December 10
2:00 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C.
December 16
12:30 PM
Syracuse
Capital One Arena

CBS
TBD
December 20
7:00 PM
North Texas
Capital One Arena

FS2
TBD
December 21
6:00 PM
VCU
Richmond, Va.
December 23
12:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Capital One Arena

FS1
TBD