As I sat in my friend’s law school dorm room watching the clock tick down, I felt what many Hoya fans have clearly articulated already: utter numbness. I’ve had a pretty joyful and frustrating experience, being able to grow up with this team. My dad, who graduated in ’67, has had season tickets for the past 30-plus years, and I remember my first games, watching Alonzo and Dikembe at the Capital Centre in Landover. I remember Othella and Iverson’s first games in McDonough.

But the years before this senior-led team came to the Hilltop were tough years to be a Hoya fan. After the departure of Allen Iverson, we went through a decade-long period (not withstanding our trip to the Sweet 16 in 2001), in which nothing seemed to flow for us. Our consistent National Invitational Tournament appearances and the sudden resignation of John Thompson Jr. left this school feeling much the same way we felt after our loss to Davidson: numb. The Esherick years were when I felt like I had hit rock bottom as a Hoya fan. The games weren’t fun anymore for me, and it wasn’t because we were losing, but rather because I had little faith that there would be progress in the future. I remember a discussion with my father that ended with my slamming the door to my room when he suggested that we not renew our season tickets for the year. It’s hard for people who aren’t die-hard fans of a team to understand the emotions that come with the ups and downs of success. It felt like this team, that I had worshipped since I was three years old, had run its course.

Then, hope came towards the end of my freshman year. After the hiring of John Thompson III, I felt cautious optimism. I didn’t know much about the man, and my trip to the Capital Classic high school all-star game left me hopeful but not very enthusiastic for the entry of Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green to the team. But the words that gave me some optimism came just after our beloved coach arrived on campus. “We are Georgetown.” Those three simple words almost instantly filled the emptiness that had encompassed every true Hoya fan’s heart. We were a national program that had gone through a terrible decline, and in the process, we’d forgotten our true potential. This was a team bound for greatness in the history of college basketball.

Watching the new team during the first few games was frustrating. As they struggled to learn the offense, it was hard not to have doubts about the different style of play that was taking shape. I found myself, on numerous occasions, standing up in my seat in the 100 section, screaming for Brandon, or Ashanti, or Daryl to penetrate against the defense and “hurry up.” But then things seemed to start turning ever so slightly. The offense began to click, shots started to fall, and these Hoyas, although different from the teams of the past, were doing something that made all of us proud: they were playing true team basketball.

Now, instead of gripping onto false hope for the past four years, I have held onto memories that I can tell my kids about. I know exactly where I was when we beat Duke, when we won both of our regular season championships, when we beat Pitt to win the Big East tournament last year. In my four years on the Hilltop, my greatest memory will always be the night we beat North Carolina and the days that followed when I camped out for 15 hours with my friends for Final Four tickets and road-tripped down to Atlanta. I have pictures from that trip sitting above my computer at work now, and it always lifts me up to relive the memories from that trip.

What happened on Sunday was incredibly disheartening. I’m sure the first thing that went through nearly every fan’s head was “these seniors didn’t deserve this.” They certainly did not. But as badly as we all wanted Roy, Jon, Pat and Tyler to finish off their careers with a national title, their accomplishments go much further than that.

This one game, this one terrible loss, was just that: one terrible loss. It does not discount the four years of joy that they’ve given countless Georgetown students and alumni, and it does not take away from the fact that they and Coach Thompson have brought this team back to us. Roy, Jon, Pat and Tyler: You have a tremendous amount to be proud of.

Ben Naylor graduated from the College in 2007.

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