The men’s basketball program is struggling to emerge from its own shadow. A storied stretch of dominant seasons during the 1980s elevated the Hoyas to national prominence, but nostalgia for the glory days can distract from this generation’s high-achieving cast of Blue and Gray.

As the team prepares for its season opener tonight against Florida — to be played on, of all places, a naval ship off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla. — the program and its fan base should be excited for the future and proud of the immediate past. Georgetown has appeared in the top 10 of the national coaches’ poll each of the last six seasons and has reached the NCAA tournament in seven of the last 10. There have certainly been some postseason disappointments since Georgetown’s run to the Final Four in 2007, but the team has nonetheless been a consistent powerhouse.

Yet the Georgetown community is often more interested in glorifying past achievements than celebrating existing ones. It’s understandable to honor the accomplishments of John Thompson Jr. and his crew of all-time greats like Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson and Alonzo Mourning. Appreciating history, upholding tradition and honoring legacies are rightful hallmarks of the Georgetown basketball program. But even respect for former Georgetown teams can become excessive when it distracts from the accomplishments of current Hoyas, and such emphasis has been noticeable in recent seasons.

For example, the past two Midnight Madness themes have allowed past decades to steal the spotlight. In 2011, the evening’s main event featured the return of alumni hoops legends like Ewing and recent stars such as Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. This year the theme was “Kickin’ it Ol’ Skool,” which was highlighted by a performance by Doug E. Fresh, a beatboxer from the ’80s. The classic “We are Georgetown” shirts have been using slogans that follow this pattern — this year’s reads “Heroes are Remembered / Legends Never Die.” Too often, today’s players are overlooked as the Georgetown athletic department tries to capitalize on decades-old successes. The team unveiled new jerseys this season, which feature images of Thompson Jr. and “1984,” when the Hoyas won their only national title — the current players must now literally carry these memories on their backs.

Meanwhile, there has recently been an embarrassing emptiness in the student sections at Verizon Center for some home games. While we cannot draw a cause-and-effect relationship between this nostalgic attitude and game attendance, it’s safe to say that students have a tendency to compare current teams to those of the past. Instead of fixating on now versus then, the Hoya faithful should be encouraged to appreciate Georgetown’s recent run of high achievement.

The current men’s basketball team has the opportunity to make its own golden age, to remember legendary performances while setting its sights on the future. We believe the team can shake the chains of unrealistic comparisons and move on to the next iconic era of Hoya basketball, but the Georgetown fan base must be willing to let them.

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