Hoyas to Host Rare McDonough Home Game
On March 18, 2014, 2,133 Georgetown fans filed into McDonough Arena for the first round game of the National Invitational Tournament between the No. 4-seed Georgetown men’s basketball team and No. 5-seed West Virginia. Amid screams and cheers of “Hoya Saxa” from students, alumni and other members of the Georgetown community that echoed through the gymnasium, the Hoyas defeated the Mountaineers in a 77-65 finish.
“That NIT game a couple years ago was unbelievable,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “It was a great atmosphere, a great environment.”
Since that day, the men’s basketball team has not stepped foot on the court in McDonough for either regular season or postseason play. All home games are played at the Verizon Center, a venue that boasts approximately 20,000 seats and plays host to the likes of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics and several other major events ranging from concerts to circuses.
However, that is about to change.
On Nov. 17, Georgetown will take a brief hiatus from Verizon Center to grace the McDonough court for the first time in over two-and-a-half years. In the Hoyas’ third game of the regular season, Arkansas State will arrive on Georgetown’s campus to take on the Hoyas at an event that Thompson hopes will have the same atmosphere as it did in 2014.
“Hopefully we’ll have that again, for that game,” Thompson said. “Having it here on campus, hopefully everyone will come down and take a little study break.”
The contest against Arkansas State will take place just two days after a home matchup at the Verizon Center against No. 25 Maryland.
Since the matchup against Arkansas State is technically part of the Hoyas’ Maui Invitational, the team was forced to find a date either the week before or after the tournament, which runs from Nov. 21-23. Because it was impossible to find a suitable date to play at Verizon Center, Georgetown will play at McDonough.
According to junior forward Isaac Copeland, the inconvenience may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Hoyas. Most early nonconference games garner relatively minimal attendance, leaving thousands of seats unoccupied at Verizon Center. At McDonough, nearly every seat will likely be filled, creating a vibrant and spirited environment.
“I don’t see any problems, I see only benefits. I came to the McDonough game when they played against West Virginia,” Copeland said. “It was crazy, it was loud. I’m expecting a crazy atmosphere and a great turnout from the fans.”
Last season, one of the most highly attended games for the Hoyas was their Dec. 5 matchup against the Syracuse Orange. Over 18,000 fans filled the Verizon Center for a revival of a classic Big East rivalry, which ultimately concluded in a 79-72 victory for Georgetown. According to senior forward Reggie Cameron, one of two current players present for the game against West Virginia, Syracuse was one of the only games that came close to the energy of the fans against the Mountaineers.
“Just having the energy in that building, and having all the students excited. There wasn’t a game, other than maybe Syracuse at home last year, that had more energy than that West Virginia game freshman year in the NIT. So it’s exciting. I’m really excited.”
Georgetown returns to the Verizon Center for the remainder of its home games throughout the rest of its 2016-17 campaign. The Hoyas are slated to compete in an array of out-of-conference matchups against the likes of Howard, Coppin State, Elon, La Salle, No. 19 Syracuse and UNC Greensboro, in addition to their contests at the Maui Invitational.
The Blue and Gray have struggled in these types of contests in the past, falling to Radford, then-No. 3 Maryland, then-No. 4 Duke, Monmouth and UNC Asheville in the first two months of its regular season schedule last season.
According to Thompson, a game at McDonough Arena provides an opportunity to notch a victory in a place where fans can easily take the time out of their days to watch the game. With the travel to Verizon Center often taking up significant chunks of time on weekdays, the turnout may prove to be exactly what Georgetown needs in terms of fan support.
“When McDonough is packed, it can be rocking,” Thompson said. “It was fun a couple years ago, it was a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to it.”