It was unbelievable.
I woke up early last Monday morning to watch the Hoyas take on the famed Tarheels of the University of North Carolina, a school with a basketball program among the most hallowed in the nation. They have been to th Final Four something like 16 times. Twenty-five years ago, the Hoyas met the Tarheels in the NCAA Finals only to lose when a freshman named Michael Jordan hit a 17-ft jumper to go up by one with 17 seconds to play. Talk about history.
This time it was different. Sadly I couldn’t get a video feed. But the radio was coming in clearly. UNC led most of the game – in fact, with five minutes left they were up by ten! It seemed to be the end of Georgetown’s comeback season.
But then the tide turned. Listening to the calls, it was like a miracle taking place. The Hoyas clawed back to within three with under a minute remaining. 30 seconds. UNC missed a shot, Georgetown rebounded. The clock was expiring and it was all coming down to this. Sitting on the end of the bed, headphones hooked up to the laptop at 7am with my wife slowly rousing with each excited tremble I made, I thought, Wouldn’t it be awesome if they just hit a 3 right now?
Announcer: “Wallace dribbling, 12 on the shot clock, he pulls up for three… GOOD! Tie game with 22 seconds left and it is pandemonium here in East Rutherford!!!”
I was jumping up and down, respect for my wife’s sleep now thrown out the window, and she was good enough to smile with me as UNC called a timeout.
Now they had one chance to get a shot off and win the game. This gave me no small amount of anxiety. It was as if we were back in 1982 all over again – but this time, there was no Jordan. And thank God for that, because one of their guys got a shot off – and from what the announcer said, it was a damn good look, too – but he missed it. “And we are going into overtime!”
There were five more minutes now, but it was already over. Again, there was a strong sense of the inevitable. UNC missed something like the next 20 shots. It scored about 2 points in OT while Georgetown went on a rampage and finally won by more than 10. It was all about the momentum. The Hoyas got the first basket, and the second, and the third, and it was over.
Days later I found this video, of high-quality production, of the campus back in DC – the students ran into the streets, lit fireworks and chanted “Hoya Saxa!” to let off the steam. Check it out:
Next is Ohio State and the fearsome Greg Oden. It will be a formidable opponent. I firmly believe fate has decided to grant the title to my Hoyas this year – but even if I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter. Georgetown has already proven itself. When I was a student the team was just starting to come out of a long slump that began when Iverson left for the NBA. I believe it was my sophomore year when Kevin Braswell led the team to the Sweet Sixteen and kids on campus began sporting shirts that said “Respect is Back. Fear is Next.”
The Fear is Here.