In the spring of 1907, eight Georgetown students made history. Under the direction of Coach Maurice Joyce, these eight gentlemen began the tradition of Georgetown University men’s basketball. One hundred years after feet of students from the Hilltop first began pounding the parquet, the tradition couldn’t be any healthier.

The team finished its first season with a 2-2 record and a total of 63 scored points – not exactly the most impressive results. But the modesty with which basketball arrived at Georgetown belies the impact of its presence through the decades. Hoyas today owe a great deal to the program, which remains one of the few institutions binding generations together in an ever-changing landscape of physical construction, technological innovation and academic development.

When the university created the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1919, the basketball program also expanded, finishing 13-1.

When the construction of Lauinger Library was completed in 1970, the Hoyas had just built a memorable journey to the National Invitational Tournament.

And in 1985, when this year’s seniors were born and juniors were made, Patrick Ewing (COL ’85) and the Hoyas were returning from their famous birth into the annals of sports fame and glory – with a victory at the NCAA National Championship.

Hoya basketball brings us more than just memories. It brings us part of that pride that forces a tear when we cross the Key Bridge after any long time separated from our alma mater.

It also brings in revenue. A healthy basketball program with high attendance and merchandise sales helps support the athletic department and other sports which also matter to students here.

The program has featured many players who have become successful in both professional ball and in the business and political worlds – from 11-time NBA All-Star Patrick Ewing to former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to former congressman Henry Hyde.

Looking around campus today, it’s easy to see the importance that students attribute to the program.

Hoya Blue, Georgetown’s official school spirit organization, is one of the largest clubs on campus, and it should be commended for its tireless efforts to promote support for the team, even during winless stretches. Since its founding in 1997, the organization has creatively and enthusiastically bolstered fans’ enthusiasm both inside and outside the Verizon Center. There’s nothing quite like watching the simultaneous movements and cheers of hundreds of gray-shirted Hoyas in the student sections during games. Plus, it’s good to know that there are still dozens of fans out there unafraid to don big blue wigs and blue and silver body paint in support of their team. Even though the Hoyas haven’t made it to the Final Four in over 20 years, this year’s student section is as packed and fun as it was two decades ago.

Every year Georgetown changes. New buildings, new majors and new ideas are what keep our university great. One needs only to look at the size of the application pool for the class of 2011 to remember that being a student at Georgetown is a privilege. Cheering for Georgetown basketball is a large and meaningful part of that privilege.

The future of men’s basketball looks as bright as that of our university. Under the leadership of Coach John Thompson III this year’s team has already accrued an impressive record. All Hoyas, regardless of school, age or political affiliation are proud to cheer for them.

Students today may have little in common with the students of years gone by, whose candle-lit inkwells and brandy have given way to wireless laptops and pizza. But make no mistake about it: The thing that keeps alumni coming back isn’t the food – it’s the basketball. Hoya Saxa!

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