Georgetown Athletics: Outlook Good

By Sean Gormley Athletic Supporter

Welcome to the Hilltop. If you’re reading this, it means you’ve managed to get onto campus in one piece, avoiding the myriad construction sites scattered around Georgetown. Congratulations.

Our once-beautiful campus (I can vouch for that) has turned into an ugly pit of dump trucks, backhoes, ditches and chain-link fences as it is renovated and improved. You might say the same thing about Hoya sports, which are being upgraded, both the teams that wear the blue and gray and the fields they play on.

Georgetown’s traditional bread and butter, our once-feared men’s basketball program, has seen three straight seasons go by without a trip to the NCAA Tournament, and in January 1999 suffered through the resignation of Hoya icon John Thompson. Longtime assistant Craig Esherick took over the reigns, and is working hard to return Georgetown to its glory days of yesteryear.

Last season saw its ups and downs, but a Big East Tournament upset of hated Syracuse and thrilling triple-overtime victory over Virginia in the NIT saw the season end on a relative high. Hopefully this trend will continue this year, as the team graduated only two role-players while adding five newcomers to the fold. 6-foot-10 Wesley Wilson and 6-foot-8 Mike Sweetney join redshirt-junior Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and senior Lee Scruggs to form an impressive frontcourt.

The backcourt remains intact, and the continuity of Craig Esherick’s second full season as head coach should help to propel the team upward. Nothing short of an NCAA tournament appearance should be expected from this talented squad, but only time and a few key battles down at MCI Center will tell. It’s about time for a return to glory.

The Hoya football program is also on the rise, and is now ready to enter the Patriot League in 2001, leaving behind its Jesuit brethren in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference – Canisius, we will miss you so. Georgetown faces three Patriot League foes this fall – Bucknell, Holy Cross and Fordham – prior to officially joining the league the following season.

The league upgrade will mean a tougher schedule, possible Ivy League matchups and a new stadium that might arrive by the time your children graduate from Georgetown. This fall, however, you will have to settle for watching the Hoyas up on decrepit Kehoe Field, but this is a team worth watching nonetheless.

Some major talent will be suiting up this fall, including senior wide receiver and All-American candidate Gharun Hester, who will pull double-duty on the basketball court this winter. Safety Ryan O’Donoghue anchors the defense, which returns seven starters from last year’s squad, which finished fourth in the nation in points allowed per game and looks to help Georgetown to its third-straight nine-win season.

Men’s and women’s soccer are both predicted to have middle-of-the-pack seasons in the Big East, while playing home games in a war/construction zone. The demise of Pots ‘n Spoons due to whiney Big East coaches means that you can’t rip off your shirt and make an awful racket directly behind the opposing team’s bench. Despite this, both Hoya soccer teams should be more than competitive, and the rest of the world seems to think soccer is the greatest sport, so why not get with the program and watch some games?

Field hockey and volleyball round out the fall team sports on the Hilltop. Volleyball will be looking to make its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament, while the field hockey team will be looking to improve on its 5-11 mark in 1999.

Once winter rolls around, there are more than just men’s basketball games downtown at MCI. Women’s basketball looks to continue its rebound, and watching Head Coach Pat Knapp on the sidelines is always more than enough entertainment as the veins in his forehead pulse and he is heard above the noise of entire arenas. On the court, senior Katie Smrcka-Duffy will continue to lead the team in just about everything, hopefully leading the Hoyas back to the NCAAs, which has eluded the program in the second half of the 1990s.

When the flowers bloom in the spring, if there is only one thing you do on campus, catch a lacrosse game. We’re good. We’re very good.

Both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams made the NCAA quarterfinals this past spring and are perennial top-10 powers. The men lost a number of talented stars this past season, but don’t look for much of a dropoff, because the Hoyas don’t rebuild, they reload. Meanwhile, the women look to continue their meteoric rise after taking eventual champion Maryland to overtime before losing by a single goal. Returning virtually intact, the women’s squad should be looking at a preseason top-5 ranking with expectations of a final four berth.

Then, of course, there’s the baseball team. The Hoyas’ combined Big East record the last two seasons was 3-48, and their home field was turned into a parking lot during the summer. I guess progress comes at a cost. Oh, well.

There you have it – Georgetown sports in a nutshell. I neglected to mention our powerhouse sailing and track squads, but a lack of on-campus facilities prevents attending events. So in your time on the Hilltop, in between hangovers, try and catch some of these teams as they take on the Big East (in most cases), and yell extra loud if it’s Notre Dame or Syracuse.

Oh yeah, and one last thing. Learn the fight song. You can never have too much school spirit. Then you can teach it to me.

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