Syracuse Basketball: 5 reasons the Orange/Hoyas rivalry is still real to me

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Sports are so much more enjoyable when traditions and rivalry help enhance the fan experience, and I still have a lot of passion for the long-time rivalry between Syracuse basketball and Georgetown.

ESPN loves the Red Sox versus Yankees games for a reason. Duke versus North Carolina is huge not just in the state but when the two meet on the basketball court, ESPN talks about it a lot.

Once upon a time, Syracuse basketball versus Georgetown was debatably amongst those rivalries until the Big East dynamic changed and left Syracuse little choice but to leave for the ACC. In fact, many have said in the past that the rivalry added credibility and marketability to the Big East.

Syracuse left the Big East almost 9 years ago in 2013 so the matchups weren’t as frequent and there was no longer a conference championship on the line but to many like me, it still felt real. And I’ve heard the chatter that this is no longer a rivalry and doesn’t matter, but I can’t disagree more.

So instead of just saying it matters and pointing to former players who still feel it’s important too, I wanted to briefly touch on not one but FIVE reasons it’s still real to me.

Why the Syracuse basketball and Georgetown rivalry is important to me.

Ewing swings on Pearl

Picture this. New York City. 1985. The Big East Tournament has taken over Madison Square Garden. Georgetown has a program-changing player in Patrick Ewing. Syracuse recruited our own program changer by bringing in the New York City park legend Dwayne “Pearl” Washington. During the game, Ewing elbows Pearl. Pearl gives him an elbow receipt. Ewing gets upset and swings and misses at Pearl. He swung on our guy…our legend…our program changer.

Hoyas “take out” Arinze Onuaku

There are some certainties in life when it pertains to me and my Syracuse Orange fandom. 44 belongs on the field, Orange is a way of life and not just a color, I love my Dome and 2010 was a championship season if Arinze Onuaku doesn’t suffer a knee injury during the Big East Tournament against Georgetown. Maybe the Hoyas’ Greg Monroe didn’t injure him intentionally but it still happened against Georgetown and I’m still disappointed because AO worked so hard to get to this point in his senior year. That Orange team was talented and could have made a run at the Final Four and the national title, but fell short with him out, losing to Butler in the Sweet 16.

Georgetown closes down the Manley Field House

Yes, Grandpa is going back to the ’80s here…1980 to be exact. Syracuse basketball was moving their basketball games out of the legendary Manley Field House into the new (at that time named) Carrier Dome. Syracuse is the number 2 team in the country and in their last home game for that building suffered a 52-50 loss to those darn Hoyas. At this point, Georgetown head coach John Thompson doused the flames of pain with his proclamation that “Manley Field House is officially closed” and the tempers of Orange Nation were burning bright with hatred for all things Georgetown.

Syracuse advances to Final Four on Georgetown’s court

How about a positive Syracuse story? Now to be fair, there were a few great moments not mentioned like the Donovan McNabb game, GMac and Devo beating Georgetown in the Big East Tournament (ask them if the rivalry matters) and I vaguely remember a couple of last-second shots from Pearl and former Orangeman Dave Johnson to beat them as great moments. However, one I remember well was when in 2013 the Orange advanced to the NCAA Final Four on Georgetown’s court…the same court they lost on previously during the regular-season finale.

Michael Graham vs Andre Hawkins

“Michael Graham, in front of 19,000 people, punched my player, and the ref had the nerve to call it a two-shot foul.’’ If you’ve never seen or heard this press conference with Coach Boeheim, go out of your way to find it. Before the “not 10 effing games” or the Andy Katz moment or talking about his record versus certain coaches, we saw a young Jim Boeheim go off on the officials for calling and then reversing the technical-foul call that Graham punched Syracuse Orangeman Andre Hawkins, instead saying it was just a normal two-shot foul. If you’re a pro wrestling fan, those Boeheim and Thompson moments back then were Flair and Dusty-worthy moments for the fan base. Moments like this made you either a Syracuse fan or a Georgetown fan and the line was drawn. Ask Louis Orr how he felt after that game and tell me it’s not real.

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