Let’s pretend, for the sake of this column, that I am not a 19-year-old sophomore with less than a year of Hoya Hoops under my belt. For a minute, let’s pretend that I am really, really, old, old enough to have been around for the entire 100 years of Hoya Hoops. I am so old that back in 1907, when I first started watching the Hoyas play, Theodore Roosevelt was president and the Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball.

After watching every coach, every player and every game in the Blue and Gray’s century-old basketball history, I am perhaps best suited to give perspective on these last 100 years. As such, I’ve decided to put together a few things that I miss from the old days of Hoya Hoops and a few things that the Hoyas of today have got right.

Old School Nicknames

While today’s Hoyas may have height, athleticism and general skill advantages over their predecessors, the Hoyas of yesteryear certainly had better nicknames. A full list of these nicknames is available online (www.hoyabasketball.com), but for my fellow geriatrics patients lacking in computer skills, I brought back some of the best over the years.

Considering this years team’s only consistently-used nicknames are for Octavius “Tay” Spann and Jonathan “J-Wall” Wallace, an old fan like myself cannot help but look back to the days of Ziggie Zeitler (CAS ’71), Cheese Holloway, Stretch Goedde and my all-time favorite, Eric “Sleepy” Floyd (CAS ’82), without a bit of nostalgia.

While Sleepy was better appreciated in his time for his double-digit scoring averages, 25 years later it is his moniker, and not his mid-range jumper, that we truly miss.

McDonough Gymnasium

The Hoya fan of the 21st century may think of McDonough Gymnasium as a tiny, dingy, rundown arena best used for pep rallies and practice time, but back in the ’50s, McDonough was the place to be on a Saturday night when the Hoyas opened the arena’s era with a 10-1 home record.

Look at any picture of McDonough from its early years and you’ll understand why the annual McDonough games mean so much to longtime Hoya fans. Supported by postwar fundraising by Georgetown alumni, the stadium itself was an amazing effort, but following the cancellation of the Georgetown football program in 1951, it also served as a symbol to the community that basketball would be Georgetown’s flagship program for years to come.

While the move to off-campus arenas has added size and spectacle to Hoya Hoops, it is hard to replace the feeling of a packed gymnasium for a big game on the Hilltop.

Uniforms

No matter how much of an old-timer you are, it is hard to deny that the evolution of Hoya uniforms has headed in the right direction over the years. Just try to imagine Jeff Green running down the floor in the short white shorts and tight white jerseys of the Jack Magee era.

While basketball attire as a whole has changed drastically over the years, the Hoyas went from copying Marquette in the late ’60s to developing a style all their own. Today’s Hoya gear has become so popular that the young people tell me it is even featured in rap music videos such as Lil’ Wayne’s “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy.” While the shorts of today go down way too far for my taste, the kids seem to like them.

NBA Superstars

When Sam Simon and William Lavelle, members of Georgetown basketball’s first class of seniors, graduated in 1907, the Hoya faithful had no hope of seeing them play again. For nearly the first 50 years of Hoya basketball, the NBA-bound Hoya was a rare occurrence. Even when players like Bill Bolger (C ’53) started to get drafted in the ’50s, the NBA fan was tied to his home team and region in a way that prevented him from following his Georgetown favorites.

All of that began to change in the early ’80s, when the New Jersey Nets drafted future all-Star Eric “Sleepy” Floyd in the first round. While Sleepy may have been the first, it was his teammate, the legendary Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85), who would become Georgetown’s great NBA star.

After following Patrick for four years at Georgetown, a Hoya fan was able to watch the 11-time All Star for over a decade while he led the New York Knicks. Since Ewing, names like Mourning (COL ’92), Mutombo (FLL ’91) and Iverson have headlined a group of NBA Hoyas that any fan can be proud of both on and off the court.

I may not actually be old enough to have seen the last 100 years of Hoya basketball, but any student of history can be proud of how far the Blue and Gray have come. From its humble beginnings in a gym too small to hold bleachers, Hoya basketball has grown into one of America’s most prestigious and dominant programs. While the home court, epithets, uniforms and player fame may have changed over time, a century of hard work and Hoya Pride has made Hoya Hoops into one of Georgetown’s proudest institutions.

Jamie Leader is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at leaderthehoya.com. FOLLOW THE LEADER appears regularly ever other Friday in HOYA SPORTS.

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