A day later, the unapologetic finality of it all is setting in. The dream run of the Georgetown Hoyas came to a close last night with a deflating loss to Ohio State in the national semifinals. With the gap between the Hoyas and the Buckeyes sitting at three possessions with two minutes left in the game yesterday, I knew there would be no miracle comeback this time. And when the game ended, I kept trying to find solace in the loss, as if that would somehow change the final score, and we would be the ones playing for the championship Monday night.
All my friends and I could focus on after the game were the ifs. If Jeff Green had played a more assertive game. If we could have capitalized on Greg Oden's limited playing time. If the officials had ruled in favor of Green on a questionable bang-bang foul in which Oden tried his best to impersonate Vince Carter dunking on Frederic Weis, 2000 Olympics style. But the fact remains, those ifs never came to fruition, and the Buckeyes were the better team last night. I know that Hoya fans everywhere will cling to the idea that if we played Ohio State in a best of 5 or a best of 7 game series, Georgetown would have ultimately come out on top. But unfortunately, this isn't the NBA, and it's something the team and the fans have to live with.
It's nice to say you have to live with a Final Four appearance though. This team gave Hoyas everywhere more reasons to be proud than we've had in a generation. And frankly, such a turnaround seemed like a pipe dream three years ago when the team finished with a miserable 13-19 record in the last season under Craig Escherick. Time after time this season, Georgetown rose up and met the challenges, one by one. Defeats of Big East rivals Marquette and Pittsburgh at home to punctuate a regular season conference title. A romp through the Big East Tournament. And sweetest of all, a thrill-a-minute ride through the East bracket of the NCAA Tournament, along the way producing a game for the ages against North Carolina. Green and Hibbert became marquee names in the college hoops game, and coach John Thompson III, the irrepressible linchpin of it all, showed the country that there are few coaches out there better at what they do.
This afternoon, a group of about 100 or 150 students waited outside venerable old McDonough Arena on the Georgetown campus waiting to welcome the team upon their arrival. Students screamed the familiar refrain of "Hoya! Saxa!" with the brio of a fan base celebrating a win. A big smile flashed by Hibbert upon stepping off the bus seemed to validate the experience at least somewhat. It was a bittersweet moment - we were all struggling with the fact that they were back in D.C. with a game still to be played in Atlanta. But much more than that, there was a real sense of appreciation present. It was the least we could do for the unforgettable joy ride they've given us over the last month.
john thompson iii