Before I arrived at Georgetown, my closest association with the game of basketball was the traumatic memory of the time I scored two points for the wrong team in fifth grade intramurals. Growing up in Alabama, I devoted every Saturday in the fall to Crimson Tide football — I didn’t have much of a choice — and after January rolled around, I switched ESPN off, tuning out any discussion of brackets or bubbles or the Big East.

But once my deposit was on its way to the Hilltop, I decided to at least give basketball a try. That year, I watched the Hoyas lose to Ohio in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I knew, of course, that Georgetown had a historic rivalry with Syracuse, but I was skeptical that it could live up to the intensity of my home state’s sports tradition. To be honest, I doubted that I would ever be a true fan.

Nonetheless, in the midst of the freshman rush to join (and buy) everything, I ended up with a set of season tickets and my first “We Are Georgetown” shirt. I went to almost every home game, but sadly I missed the Syracuse game because of the flu. It definitely wasn’t the same watching from my laptop in New South. And as we all know, postseason play again ended in disappointment.

Last year, however, things started to change. I watched every game — at Verizon Center and on television. I kept tabs on stats and standings. I followed all of the basketball players on Twitter (a necessary and worthwhile step). February found me in Sellinger cheering my team through a tough overtime loss at the Carrier Dome. March found me stifling groans in Lau as we fell again at the NCAA tournament. But for the first time, I didn’t lose hope — I couldn’t help but get excited about the next season.

While I was abroad, I found myself missing lots of things about fall at Georgetown: the excitement of the first week, an actual change of seasons, Halloween. But as November arrived, I realized that one of the things I missed the most — strangely enough — was the beginning of basketball season. Lacking a seat at Verizon Center, I turned to the next best thing — blurry ESPN recaps. I stayed up to follow the big games, even with the nine-hour time difference. Despite my skepticism, I had become a fan.

Since I’ve returned this semester, the Hoyas have certainly not disappointed me — discounting a few blips — and in fact seem to have both their national ranking and campus optimism at a recent high. Last weekend, I was finally able to attend my first Syracuse game. While I often don’t even crack open my eyelids before 11 a.m. on a weekend morning, I was wide awake at 6 a.m. on Saturday (not even kidding, my roommates proclaimed that it was “better than Christmas”). By 8:12 a.m., I was in the student section. At noon, I stood up, not to return to my seat. And around 2:06 p.m., I was celebrating on the court in what is sure to become one of the highlights of my four years here — something that might shock my younger self.

You see, while I didn’t choose Georgetown because of its basketball, I think if I hadn’t impulsively purchased those season tickets fall of freshman year, I would be seriously missing out. Basketball certainly doesn’t define Georgetown, but it does represent just another part of its culture, something intangible that binds us together — just ask anyone who found themselves at half-court in Verizon Center on Saturday afternoon. And while expectations around this time of year are yet again sky-high, I think, win or lose, that feeling won’t disappear. My fingers are crossed for a few more wins.

Audrey Wilson is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. CULTURE SHOCK appears every other Friday in the guide.

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