Of the 13 nonconference games scheduled for the 2018-19 season by Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85), only one is slated against an opponent ranked in AP’s Preseason Poll: Syracuse.
On Dec. 8, the Hoyas will visit the No. 16 Orange as Ewing makes his first trip to the Carrier Dome since his days donning a Blue and Gray uniform as a player.
On Jan. 17, 1982, the 7-foot-1 Ewing made his first appearance at Syracuse as Georgetown’s center. His first taste of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry was bitter: The No. 8 ranked Hoyas fell to the Orangemen 75-70.
Nearly a year later, on Jan. 10, 1983, Ewing and the Hoyas competed in one of the rivalry’s most heated contests. Before the start of the game, a fan rolled a banana on the court, and supporters held signs that read, “Ewing can’t spell ESPN.” While Ewing was attempting a free throw just three minutes into the game, someone in the Syracuse student section threw an orange at him. Despite the racism and abuse that Ewing dealt with on that day and throughout his Georgetown career, he maintained his composure, and Georgetown emerged from the Carrier Dome with a 97-92 victory.
Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim grabbed the stadium microphone, asked his team be assigned a technical foul and told the sell-out crowd of 31,327 to stop such behavior. This crowd set a record for the largest attendance at an on-campus NCAA Division I men’s basketball game, a record broken by the Orangemen two weeks later on Jan. 22.
Currently, the Orange still hold the record for largest single-game attendance, with 35,446 in a game against the Duke Blue Devils in February 2014.
Nevertheless, Ewing is not yet concerned about his team performing in one of the most historically intimidating venues in college sports in December.
“I’m not thinking about the Carrier Dome right now,” Ewing said at the Georgetown men’s basketball media day. “Going against Syracuse is way down the line on my mind as a coach and even as a player.”
When the Hoyas do arrive at the Carrier Dome, they will be greeted by a familiar name sewn across a No. 55 Syracuse jersey hanging from the rafters: Orr.
In 2015, Louis Orr’s jersey was retired by Syracuse University for his contributions as a player from 1976 to 1980. He was a member of Boeheim’s first recruiting class and later served alongside the Hall of Fame coach as an assistant from 1996 to 2000. Now, he serves as assistant coach for the Hoyas.
Ewing and Orr were teammates on the New York Knicks from 1985 to 1988 and developed a close friendship; the Syracuse legend joined Ewing’s staff as an assistant coach in 2017.
In his second year with the Hoyas, Orr will have to face the Orange faithful not only as a member of his alma mater’s longtime rival but also as the opponent of the same coach who recruited him in his youth: Boeheim.
For Ewing, December’s game will present a challenge, but not one that he is currently worried about.
“I’ll start worrying about them when that time comes,” Ewing said. “Syracuse is a very good team; they’re led by a Hall of Fame coach, but I take it a day at a time.”
Ewing, in the Hall of Fame himself, was 7-3 against the Orange in his playing career as a Hoya. Last season, Ewing’s squad fell to Boeheim’s 86-79 in overtime.
December’s matchup will present not only an opportunity for Ewing to notch his first victory against the Orange as a coach but also a chance for new Georgetown players to play against Syracuse for the first time.
“Syracuse is definitely highlighted for everybody,” transfer guard Greg Malinowski said.
The rivalry also includes an added dimension this year: Boeheim’s son, freshman guard Buddy Boeheim, will be playing his first season for the Orange.
While tipoff is scheduled for over a month away, the Dec. 8 matchup against Syracuse serves as the marquee nonconference game for Georgetown and marks the Hoyas’ first test this season against a preseason-ranked team. The Big East currently contains only such team in No. 9 Villanova.
Georgetown may not be concerned with game-planning for the contest right now, but Ewing’s return to the Carrier Dome, where he experienced both moments of hostility and triumph against Boeheim and the Orange, serves as one of the Hoyas’ defining storylines leading up to the 2018-19 season.