- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 5, 2012

Well, that’s that. Another riveting football season is in the books.

The college game wrapped up four weeks ago, and even its offseason circus — national signing day — is over.

Since this is the Washington market, though, that didn’t matter anyway. Well, at least based on attendance figures at Byrd Stadium.

The pro season is over, too. And suddenly there’s a gaping hole.

Sure, there is an offseason for a league that casts a monolithic shadow over the rest of the sporting landscape. But despite its omnipresence, there’s only so much immediate return on free agency, a draft, minicamps and countless hours of yammering and pointless prattle on the Four Letter Network.

(Spoiler alert for supporters of the Local Eleven: Your team will contend for another mythical offseason championship. There will be lots of chatter about a quarterback. Irrational hopes a two-decade title drought could end surely will surface. And a franchise indigenous to last place for quite a while probably will wind up back there again next season. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.)

So what to do? College basketball — especially local college basketball — says hello.

Oh, it’s been here for the past three months, chugging along steadily and often unnoticed. But maybe now it’s time to start paying attention, even though it was ignored (as it so often is) in its early and middle stages.

It might not be the best season on record locally. There’s only one sure thing to be playing into the middle of March among D.C.-area teams. But there’s the start of interesting things nearly everywhere.

An especially adventurous fan could have caught three games inside the Beltway on Saturday. That doesn’t even include the latest high-wire act authored by George Mason (19-6, 11-2 CAA), which outlasted Old Dominion 54-50 in Fairfax on Saturday to remain in a three-way tie for the conference lead.

There’s also the perverse intrigue further afield in Annapolis, where Navy (3-19) on Saturday matched a school record with 15 consecutive losses and is without leading scorer J.J. Avila, who was suspended indefinitely last week.

Saturday, though, made it possible to check in on three locals at very different stages of their development — a basketball tripleheader delightfully devoid of the Wizards (though a preview of one of their future draft picks was possible thanks to the visiting team in College Park).

11 a.m.

This is probably too early to be playing much of anything. It didn’t stop Georgetown and South Florida from convening before midday for a contest of surprising importance in the Big East.

Not-so-surprising: The effective Hoyas continued churning out victories.

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