PICKING SPLINTERS Hoyas Will Have To Wait ‘Till Next Year

There are few things that I dislike more than quitting. So you can imagine my reaction when I initially learned that Georgetown had declined its invitation to the National Invitation Tournament and unceremoniously ended its 27-year postseason appearance streak. To say I was irate would be an understatement.

After a tumultuous season in which a total of 10 extra points distributed over six games proved the difference between a 25-5 record and the Hoyas’ ultimate 19-11 mark, the Hoyas called it quits. After not getting into the NCAA Tournament, it appeared that Craig Esherick decided that Georgetown was too good for the NIT. At least that’s what it first seemed like to me.

Subsequently it seems that Esherick and Georgetown did not decide that they were too good for the NIT, but instead were the victims of the NIT’s desire to get its tournament games on the air. According to Esherick, originally the Hoyas were slated to face Atlantic-10 League runner-up Richmond in the opening round and then move on to a potential rematch against Virginia in the second round. That’s what Esherick was offered by the NIT and that’s what he agreed too.

But ESPN had other plans. The sports broadcasting giant wanted a game between Georgetown and Iowa. And so, the NIT called Esherick back and asked him to move out West instead. That’s when Esherick drew the line and pulled out of the tournament.

When I learned the rationale behind the declination of participation (How about that one Walt Frazier?) I calmed down a bit. I’m still not crazy about declining to play in the NIT but I don’t blame Esherick for not wanting to be the NIT’s patsy. I’m not sure if I buy the whole academics reason as being the driving force at work, but I’m sure all fans will remember a certain Lee Scruggs falling short of the NCAA eligibility standards the semester after Georgetown’s NIT run in 2000. If a member of the team may be in danger of suffering Scruggs’ fate, then Esherick is making a very good decision. Losing a player for a semester and damaging team chemistry in pursuit of what is essentially a door prize is definitely a poor trade off.

As I said before, though, I’m still disappointed we’re not playing. None of the nation’s other teams seem to be complaining about how their teams will suffer academically by playing in the NIT. And if Esherick didn’t want to take his team out West, why didn’t the NIT give us back our original matchup with Richmond when it knew the Hoyas would pull out? Surely it’d prefer to have a possible Georgetown-Virginia rematch on its lineup card than lose a well-known team like the Hoyas altogether.

Additionally, playing in the NIT could have given some tournament experience to what is a very young Georgetown team. Plus, each school that plays in the NIT receives money. At a school like Georgetown where we have dozens of fundraising campaigns for current improvement projects and hundreds of other improvements that should be made (see Yates Field House) it doesn’t seem right to me that Georgetown should turn down money.

When all is said and done I guess I can see where Esherick and the Athletic Department are coming from. We’re not actually quitting on what has been a terribly disappointing season. However, as a fan, I wish the season wasn’t over. I wish the Hoyas could have played locally against Richmond and Virginia and then advanced to an NIT Championship, something I definitely think the Hoyas were capable of doing.

As it is though, the season is over. What was hyped as the best team in years almost lived up to it, but fell 10 points short of a spectacular season and an NCAA bid. All the fans and players can do now is wait until next season and return with a vengeance, knowing that another year absent from the NIT is not a realistic possibility for a team with as grand a basketball history as Georgetown.

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