See how the team has thrived through the losses and it’s enough to propel the belief that surged through the dining hall that maybe this March will be different. The ugly history and busted brackets aren’t far away. Georgetown hasn’t made a run deep into the NCAA tournament since the stroll to the Final Four in 2007.
You know the rest. Last year Georgetown earned a No. 3 seed, but No. 11 NC State dropped the Hoyas in the second round. The year before, then-unknown Virginia Commonwealth stunned Georgetown en route to the Final Four. Three years ago, No. 14 Ohio ended Georgetown’s season in the first round.
The list goes on.
But Sunday felt like something new, as a roar overtook the room at 6:13 p.m. when Georgetown’s destination was unveiled on the television’s big screen. The drama wasn’t if the Hoyas would make their 29th all-time NCAA appearance, but when and where. Cheerleaders hopped and a massive cardboard cut-out of Porter’s face thrust skyward and five television cameras rolled and two kids clustered at the television’s base. One clutched a stuffed animal, another a homemade sign in blue and gray.
The cheers faded. The CBS analysts blared about “corporate champions.” Thompson, Georgetown scarf around his neck and “coach of the year” placards bearing his name on each table, checked his cellphone. Students resumed their assault on platters of cookies and highlighted textbooks pushed aside for a few minutes.
This celebration was less about earning a high seed in the tournament than the anticipation of what may come.
Finally, Thompson grabbed a mic, voice calm as always. Lights flicked on. Reverential silence covered the room. The cotton candy was gone.
“We’ve got to go learn a little bit about who we play,” the coach said. “We plan on being around for a while.”