The Hoyas made their leader very happy with a 61-39 blowout victory Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center. By brushing aside the reeling Orange for the second time this season, Thompson checked off one of the most important items on his season to-do list. From an emotional standpoint, nothing means more to him.
As we all know, the Big East was the conference of his father. During his long run at Georgetown, John Thompson Jr., who won the first Big East title, was one of the driving forces behind the conference’s fast rise to national prominence. There are things a son can’t forget.
The younger Thompson’s respect for the league was formed as much around the dinner table throughout his youth as it was from his matching wits against the conference’s other top-notch coaches. Next season, there will be a new Big East, formed around the seven league members that don’t have big-time football programs. Syracuse will move on to the ACC (apparently limping all the way there).
For Thompson, this one was personal.
“It’s special because the Big East as we have known it is ending,” Thompson said of his third Big East regular season championship. “And Georgetown won the first one – and now Georgetown has won the last.”
As if almost on cue, the elder Thompson then barked from the back of the interview room, “And kiss Syracuse goodbye.”
There couldn’t have been a better opponent for Georgetown on Saturday. It was fitting that Thompson wrapped up his part of the family’s bookend championships against the Hoyas’ conference nemesis.
For 30-plus seasons, Georgetown-Syracuse battles provided fans with great displays of high-level college basketball and theater. It was no different this season.
Georgetown’s ascent in the national polls – and its entry into the discussion for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament – began Feb. 23 after its impressive 57-46 victory over then-No. 8 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Beginning with that loss to the Hoyas, the Orange dropped four of its final five games.
No matter to Thompson. Beating Syracuse, regardless of the circumstances, is always a good thing. Also, many of the greatest players in Georgetown history – including Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning – were in attendance for the schools’ final Big East matchup.
They came to watch a game and wound up at a party. The celebration included students rushing the court and Thompson holding the Big East title trophy.
It’s a scene Thompson envisioned for a long time.
“When last year ended, I told this group we expected to win the regular season Big East championship this year,” Thompson recalled. “And when the school year started, I told them again. When we were 0-2, I told ’em again. And they listened.”