Georgetown’s Favorite Son Closes The Book On Storied Syracuse Rivalry

The Georgetown Hoyas are a patriarchal dynasty. The Thompsons are as synonymous with the Big East and Georgetown as the Busses are with the Lakers or Maury is with paternity tests.

For almost three decades, Georgetown’s predominantly black lineups had Chocolate City melting in the palm of its hands. In the nation’s hoops capital, fans have been driven to the edge by its sad excuse for a pro franchise, giving the Hoyas added importance.

For the past nine seasons, John Thompson III has roamed the sidelines under his father’s towering shadow. Despite a Final Four berth, 205 wins and 68 percent winning percentage, JT3 is still grasping for the same street cache that his father carried throughout his tenure on the Hoyas sideline.

However, in a conference renowned as the breeding ground for Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson and Ray Allen, Georgetown’s Princeton motion offense has often given despondent D.C. hoop heads the urge to dive over bridges, sans bungee cords.

The images of slow, asthenic, Caucasian, Ivy League athletes milking the clock usually associated with the Princeton offense are polar opposites of what Georgetown represented. Yet, despite, scoring beneath the half-century mark four times this season, the Hoyas were on the brink of claiming the outright Big East title before Wednesday’s frustrating loss to Villanova.

Unlike Pete Carril’s boys, the Hoyas don’t execute the Princeton because they lack the talent and athleticism to compete atop the Big East. In the six years since their last Big East title, Georgetown’s inability to escape the first weekend of The Big Dance has been contradictory to the talent it has recruited. Under JT3, Greg Monroe, Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green and future lottery pick Otto Porter Jr. have maintained the legacy of Mourning, Mutumbo, Ewing and A.I.

However, every family dining room table has two ends. If the Big East’s all-time great coaches were breaking bread and (chest) passing the potatoes to one another, Big John and Little John would be staring across the table at the top Jim Boeheim’s forehead.

Next season, Georgetown will become one of six other basketball-centric schools to become forefathers of the Catholic 7. Just as Big John was the progenitor of Georgetown’s early Big East dominance, JT3’s Hoyas will likely emerge as the obvious frontrunner of a frailer conference next season. But first and foremost, there are unfinished matters to tend to.  

More than momentum will be at stake when the final Big East regular season contest between the Georgetown Thompsons and Syracuse Boeheims tip off Saturday at noon. Now, in his 37th year, Boeheim has lorded over the Cuse hoops program since the fifth season of John Thompson Jr.’s Georgetown reign.

While Syracuse was expected to jockey with Louisville for the Big East title, they’ve fallen off the pace and now stare up at three other teams including Marquette and Georgetown in the Big East’s standings. Meanwhile, Porter's Naismith National Player of the Year candidacy and the Ottoman Empire crept up on the nation while the Hoyas slithered up the Big East standings.

In the Big East’s inaugural season, Georgetown won the seven-team conference’s inaugural regular season title. In the Big East’s 34th and final season, a slice of the conference title would also break their tie with UConn for most Big East championships. A win Saturday would also make Georgetown the prologue and epilogue of conference champs in the dusty, cobweb-filled, Big East record books.

Conversely, a win by the Cuse during the penultimate chapter of the Big East would be a degree of revenge that’s been 33 years in the making. On February 13, 1980, in their first-ever meeting as Big East foes, Georgetown’s frantic rally from a 15-point deficit in 14 minutes snapped the Orangemen’s 57-game home winning streak in what was also the final home game at historic Manley Field House.

After the game JT3’s pops proclaimed to the media throng, “Manley Field House is officially closed.” In their final chapter of their storied rivalry, JT3 will seek to finish what his father started.



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