Dec. 19, 2009
The Neverending Story
by Kasper Statz
Us sports fans love to shoehorn individual games and events into larger narratives. We tend to view seasons by their endpoint and retroactively look upon every game within the season for explanations for how they evolved from point X to point Y. For every team that has ended on a high note, a loss from within the season has to be reconciled to represent some kind of stumbling block or humbling moment that somehow led to the team’s later improvement.
That’s how the fateful McDonough matchup from November of 2006 against Old Dominion stands in Hoya-lore. The common perception of that game is that the shocking loss by the #8 team in the nation to a mid-major in the friendly confines of McDonough for the first time in 24 years was a learning experience that the team needed before going on to win the Big East and reach the Final Four. That’s the general understanding, but for us who were students at the time (particularly those like myself in the class of 2010), that loss also carries the title “the moment of faith”.
For us in that year’s freshman class, it was the first loss we had ever experienced as Georgetown students. We came into Georgetown excited but bewildered by Hoya basketball. The general vibe we got was that basketball was a big deal and that people had high hopes for the 06-07 season but few of us newbies knew exactly how good or how exciting it could be. The famous victory over Duke from January of 06 was still very fresh in the minds of many upperclassmen and we were told that we should respect the names “Roy Hibbert” and “JTIII” but few of us actually knew who those people really were going into the season. Sure I showed up at Midnight Madness and got to the Verizon opener early to watch the team sloppily beat Hartford, but it didn’t feel like I really understood any of it.
Then came the game. Making the trek back to Harbin from McDonough, with “C-A-A” still ringing in our ears, my floor mates and I were in utter disbelief. None of us really could explain what had just happened. We were a top ten team, playing at a place where (we had been told) the Hoyas were supposed to be invincible. And most of all, We Are Georgetown! We weren’t supposed to lose to some school that none of us had ever heard of. We weren’t supposed to get cheered out of the building by opposing fans. We were supposed to be good… right? Many of us felt betrayed. What if the upperclassmen didn’t know what they were talking about when they said Hoya Basketball was big time? I didn’t want to believe this so I said to reassure them “Don’t worry, by March we will be a good team.”
Now what feels natural is to pat myself on the back for saying that. I want to believe that I skipped ahead a couple of chapters in the story of the 06-07 Hoyas and knew what was to come. Or even better, that I had some special basketball insight and that I saw little things from the game that gave me hope for the future. But sadly, I was just a kid who wanted to lessen the shock so I put blind faith into the team based on nothing. But we all know the story and the kids like me who made that leap of faith were rewarded in knowing that everything happened as it should have happened; we knew what the story book ending was.
And so when the Monarchs return to campus on Saturday, many of us will try and fit it within the narrative of 2006 as our chance for revenge. Of course it’s completely inappropriate to do so: all of our current players were still in high school when the upset occurred (same for all but two of ODU’s players). Heck, we already got our revenge a year later with a return trip to Norfolk (a highly entertaining roadtrip I might add, next year’s students should make it a priority). But for those of us who remain, we can’t help but think “I’ve read this story before.”
- Kasper is a senior in the College and the current Hoya Blue Communications Officer.