The beauty of sports is in its ability to captivate. Every so often, a team comes along that brings fans tremendous joy and reminds them why they love watching so much. This week, as Georgetown celebrates 100 years of basketball tradition, it seems fitting to honor the 20th anniversary of a squad that struck a chord with all: the 1986-1987 Hoyas, better known as “Reggie and the Miracles.”

Heading into the ’86 season, everybody was certain that Georgetown wouldn’t be any good. Memories of the 1984 championship were fading fast as the players who had been so integral to the run were lost to graduation. Hoya greats David Wingate (CAS ’86), Michael Jackson (CAS ’86), and Horace Broadnax (MSB ’86) all left earlier that year, leaving only three upperclassmen on the team for 1986-87. Every coach, writer, and broadcaster who knew anything about Big East basketball speculated that after several years at the top of the conference, this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Hoyas.

Apparently, though, nobody told that to Reggie Williams (CAS ’87).

A 6-foot-7 native of Baltimore, Williams was the prototypical small forward and a star during his time on the Hilltop. He arrived at Georgetown in 1983, and came off the bench for most of the 1983-84 championship season, averaging roughly nine points per game his freshman year. By the end of the season, Reggie had proven he was a special player, putting up an impressive 19 points and seven rebounds in the NCAA Championship win over Houston.

Over the next two years, Reggie became one of the best players on Hoya squads loaded with talent. His ultra-smooth shooting stroke – which later earned him the nickname “Silk” – was his trademark, but he was a well-rounded player to match, contributing in all aspects of the game at both ends of the court. Starring alongside his high school teammate Wingate, Reggie’s scoring average steadily increased. He factored heavily in many memorable Georgetown wins, including the famous “sweater game” against St. John’s in 1985, where he scored a team-high 25 points.

But his senior season presented Reggie with a new challenge. The team’s only seasoned veteran, he was named captain of a team that included freshmen Mark Tillmon (CAS ’90) and Dwayne Bryant (CAS ’90), inexperienced sophomore Charles Smith (CAS ’89), and a 6-foot-4 center Perry McDonald (CAS ’89). It was easy to see why most experts thought the Hoyas didn’t stand a chance, but Reggie didn’t back down refused to back down, leading Georgetown to one of its most memorable basketball seasons ever.

Early in the year, Reggie asserted himself as one of the best players in the nation, averaging almost 29 points per game over the first six games, including 26 in a win over a powerful Arizona team. Big East play was highlighted in part by two comeback wins over an emerging Pittsburgh Panthers program.

But perhaps the most memorable regular season game came on Feb. 1 at the Capital Centre against archrival Syracuse. Williams’ 30 points were enough to put a hotly contested game into overtime. In the extra period, a turnaround jumper at the buzzer by McDonald gave the Hoyas an 83-81 victory . Finding ways to pull off a number of comeback and last-second victories earned the 1986-87 Hoyas the now-established moniker “Reggie and the Miracles”.

At Madison Square Garden, Williams looked to win his third Big East Championship in four years. He delivered 24 points in the quarterfinal and 22 in the semis to set up a climactic final battle with the Syracuse Orangemen in the championship game. In his last game against his old rivals, Reggie dropped 25 of the Hoyas’ 69 total points,earning him the tournament MVP honors following Georgetown’s 69-59 victory..

His season-long hot streak continued, as he put up 21 and 24 points in the first two games of the NCAA tournament to top Bucknell and Ohio State. In a highly-anticipated Sweet Sixteen match-up with the Kansas, Reggie scored 34 points to help the Hoyas past the vaunted Jayhawks. And though they were roasted in the Elite Eight by a Providence Friars club that they had beaten earlier in the season, Reggie and his teammates held their heads high. A 29-5 final record was better than anyone had anticipated at the start of the season.

After being named a consensus All-American, Williams was the fourth overall pick in the 1987 NBA draft. Perhaps more important than Reggie’s success on the Hilltop was the legacy he left behind.

He led a team of underclassmen to the Elite Eight, but more than that, he showed them what it meant to be Hoyas. Those inexperienced rookies would grow to be the core of the successful Hoya squads of the late ’80s. All the while, “Reggie and the iracles” captivated their fans, and showed that, with a little – or a lot – of hard work, nothing is impossible.

In 100 years of Georgetown Basketball, no other Hoya team has had quite the charisma and determination of “Reggie and the iracles,” and the teams of the next century have their work cut out for them if they hope to top it.

Raymond Borgone is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. He can be reached at borgonethehoya.com. BLEEDING BLUE appears every other Friday in HOYA SPORTS.

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