Try to remain calm. The world isn’t ending. Just because the men’s basketball team lost to Pittsburgh does not mean the magic of this 2000-01 squad has ceased to be.

Georgetown is not a Cinderella team anymore. Not because they’ve joined the ranks of the beaten, but because they’ve proven they are too good to be considered underdogs. The two huge wins over Seton Hall proved that much. The Hoyas are now legitimate contenders and must raise their game back to the level seen in those victories.

A loss to Pittsburgh hurts, but the Panthers are far from pushovers. Pitt beat Seton Hall earlier this season. In addition, it plays in a conference such as the Big East where there are so many competitive programs with solid players which means any team can beat another on any given day. UConn lost to Providence, Boston College and just narrowly pulled out a win over St. John’s, who beat Boston College, but lost to Fordham on their home court. Seton Hall fell to Pitt and Georgetown, but just knocked off Syracuse, ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll. The conference is wide open, and a clear-cut winner won’t be certain until the dust settles after the Big East Tournament. Every team in the Big East has talent, but not every team has heart.

The Hoyas do. At the start of the season, Head Coach Craig Esherick hung up the now infamous NIT banner in the bathroom to inspire his players. Whether it is solely from this or part of something larger, the Hoyas are playing inspired basketball this year.

Every player has stepped up his game. Anthony Perry has resurrected himself and found his shooting touch again. Lee Scruggs is hands down the best seventh man in the country. Kevin Braswell has adapted well at point guard, distributing and contributing with his own points. Nate Burton continues to play brilliant defense and Demetrius Hunter is constantly improving, adding an outside shooting touch to his monstrous dunks (Eddie Griffin is undergoing therapy after Hunter’s slam at Seton Hall). And of course the fabulous freshmen combo of Mike Sweetney and Gerald Riley have been nothing short of spectacular in the early going. And the list goes on.

Georgetown has the skill and depth required to succeed in the Big East and in the NCAA tournament, which they will make this year. There’s no reason to give up on this team because of one loss to a mediocre opponent.

With the loss, Georgetown has hit the first bump in what had been an exceptionally well-paved road to this point. The Hoyas struggled to make shots and shut down the Panthers hot-handed team on defense, but they showed some true grit by hanging tough and never letting Pitt pull away. And there’s more to this cloud’s silver lining – the fan support was amazing.

Last year there was rarely a crowd as big as Saturday’s, and especially for an unranked, non-rival team. And never has the crowd been as charged throughout the course of the entire game. This needs to continue and the season will only get more interesting. The hard part is yet to come.

The Hoyas now have to remember what it is like to lose and how to cope with it. Thursday’s upcoming game against UNLV will be the indicator for the rest of the season. It is definitely a must-win game for Georgetown. This is not the time to question the talent of the team; the talent is there. This team is legitimate in every sense of the word. Now they must realize that their 16 consecutive wins were not flukes. The team truly is that good and it needs to remain confident.

If the Hoyas fall to UNLV it will be hard to recover in the polls, but if they win and then beat Notre Dame at home on Saturday, the Hoyas will have the opportunity to move back into the upper echelon of college basketball with a win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

The immediate future is critically important, and everyone should maintain the level of support and come out for Thursday’s game. We’re experiencing the renaissance of Georgetown basketball and if you are not a part of it, you are missing out on a fun and exciting experience, to say the least.

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