Back like we left something! The 8-0 Georgetown Hoyas will welcome a familiar face into Capital One Arena today as they square off with the 8-1 Syracuse Orange. Actually, there will be plenty of familiar faces in attendance.
Faces, names, memories and bragging rights.
The biggest name in the building will be Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing. Ewing, the best player in Big East history and one of the top college players of all time, will get his first opportunity to defeat Syracuse without being able to block a shot, rebound over or dunk on someone wearing the enemy’s colors.
Last year, former Hoya Legends and National Champions Gene Smith and Michael Graham talked to me about the rivalry and shared some memories. I had a chance to catch up with Gene before the game to get his thoughts on what’s going on and which team will record their next win.
Gene Smith / Guard / 1980 – 1984
Patrick Waring: Gene! It’s great to catch up with you again. What’s going on and what are you currently up to?
Gene Smith: Deja Vu. I’m currently in Cuba (Vedado) working on home and enjoying the holidays with la familia. Professionally, I’m doing brand consulting when available.
PW: We talked about the rivalry last season. Give me your thoughts now that Patrick Ewing is back in town and has rejoined the party.
GS: Patrick coaching at Georgetown is far more significant than this game against Syracuse. It probably would matter more to me if Syracuse was still in the Big East. I’m looking forward to the game against St. John’s and Ewing vs. Mullin. The fact that Louis Orr is on the Hoyas’ staff is still a minor hang-up for me.
PW: What’s your top memory of Georgetown playing against Syracuse?
GS: My most memorable moment was a game that I didn’t even play in. It’s the Hoyas closing Manley. Just listening to the stories from teammates that played in that game defines the rivalry.
PW: What’s your most memorable moment playing against Syracuse?
GS: On a more personal note, my sophomore year was an injury year for me. I resumed action with very little playing time, but my highlight game that year was a victory over Syracuse at home. I had 10 points and 5 steals, with a breakaway layup assisted from Sleepy Floyd. Sleepy promptly told me, “I would have killed you if you missed that, man.” Big point in that was that Sleepy never passed on the break. So why then? It was because his instincts was to get me back into the groove. I want to thank Sleepy for that memory.
PW: You were in D.C. for Ewing’s debut and the Hoyas season opener. How was the atmosphere and what do you expect inside Capital One Arena today?
GS: The atmosphere for the home opener was electric. Not so much because Michael Jordan and other celebrities were in the building, but because one of our very own was taking over the helm of the Hoyas and the showing of former players reflected that. The success of Patrick and the Hoyas is important to all of us. Today’s game is important from the vantage of a storied program and longstanding foe is showing up to play. There is historical significance. I will be waiting for Patrick’s personality to shine through each game. This game will be a good way to gauge where the team is to date. The intensity level will be heightened. I look at it more of a pop quiz than test.
PW: As always, thanks for your time. I appreciate everything, but I can’t let you go without a score prediction.
GS: I expect the Hoyas to win today. This season will be a success because the prodigal son has returned and he will rebuild the Hoyas.
Happy Holidays, my brother.
While many outside of the program have been focusing on Georgetown’s non conference schedule, Coach Ewing and the Hoyas have been sticking to their plan.
The focus today will be about the current chapter of the rivalry and which team can walk off of the court with another win.
You can follow me @WaringPatrick.
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