Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hoyaween: Focus on John Bay Bay Duren

Halloween is always special at Georgetown as we look down the Exorcist steps. Today we focus on former Hoya great John "Bay Bay" Duren. John was perhaps the greatest pure point guard to ever play on the Hilltop. In the earlier days of the JT Jr. era before GU became ""Big Man University," John Duren along with Craig Shelton came from the #1 ranked high school team in the nation, Dunbar High School. John received many awards, e.g. ECAC Holiday Festival tournament MVP, all Big East and All-American honors, as well as becoming the first Big East Player of the Year in 1979-80. John played a few injury shortened seasons in the NBA after being a first round draft choice. Bay Bay's career really catapulted into the national spotlight after making the Pan American team coached by Bob Knight and playing in those famous games in Puerto Rico.

However, to truly understand the greatness of John Duren you needed to have seen him play for the Hoyas. Although he was an excellent shooter both from the outside and the free throw line, that was not his strength. He was powerfully-built, a strong defender, a sure ball handler, and the perfect quarterback for the Heart Attack Hoyas. John did all of the little things like dive on the floor to steal a pass. He did the things that won games, but did not necessarily show up in the box score. On this Halloween 2009 we honor a former Hoya great John, "Bay Bay" Duren. I still remember the great Red Auerbach marvelling over his play. Red did not do that often. I can still hear his voice echoing down the cafeteria line at New South. John was the leader of those Hoya teams.

To read more about John Duren go the Georgetown Basketball History Project at:

We are Georgetown! Hoya Saxa!

Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Hoya Hoop Club Vice-President and Director of Communications
Proud Member of Generation Ewing

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Georgetown Midnight Madness 2009--The Thriller

What was life before Georgetown Midnight Madness? Although Georgetown MM is a recent phenomenon, I really have to think about when I did not revolve my schedule around spending that special evening at McDonough Arena. After last year's difficult season, I have especially looked forward to the start of the basketball season. Once again JT III invited Lou Canellis and Bill Raftery to cover the event on ESPNU for our third consecutive season. Our new revamped Hoya Communications Committee did extensive coverage of the event. John Hawkes once again coordinated our official HHC Blogs, while I worked to do the Facebook coverage. Ali Filipowicz had our new HHC Twitter efforts up and running giving us minute by minute updates. I will work with Talking Hoyas Podcast before the start of the season to discuss Midnight Madness, the Open Practice on October 24th, and the upcoming season. The Podcast will help educate Hoya BB fans as to need to increase our HHC membership to support JT III & our basketball program.
You can find additional Hoya Hoop Club Midnight Madness Coverage here:

Hoya Hoop Club Blog:
Hoya Hoop Club Facebook Fan Page:

Hoya Hoop Club Twitter:

As Friday and Midnight Madness approached I knew the projected weather forecast of rain would make the evening more difficult, but would not deter the Hoya faithful. I fought through the ever worsening Northern Virginia traffic spending time at my medical center offices in Reston, and Falls Church. The traffic at Tyson's Corner is just terrible any time it rains. As my brother and I headed down Connecticut Avenue, I was worried about missing some of the preliminary festivities. As the guard waived me into the parking lot off of Canal Road, I realized my fears were unwarranted. There was a hard core group of students dancing to the DJ and getting their Georgetown Jordan Brand T-shirts. However, many had gone back to their dorms avoiding the heavy rain and cold temperatures. My brother and I were luckily able to enter the gym early as the preliminary activities were soon moved inside to see the 2008-09 highlight videos.

I got a chance to have a nice chat with Coach JT III as we watched the late arriving crowd begin to fill in. Our section of the balcony soon filled with our new communications group of Blogmaster John Hawkes, Ali Filipowicz, and other HHC Board members Kurt Mulbauer, Rich McHugh, Events Chair Karen Schneider, and the infamous LicHoya! We even had out of town guests like former Hoya star quarterback Bruce Simmons.

Veteran Verizon Center announcer Chris Paul got the crowd going showing ESPNU and the nation some Hoya Love! We were treated to some great dancing performances by Groove Theory, the GU Step Team, and the Hoya Cheerleaders. There was a shooting contest between the freshman and the sophomores. The freshman lost and had to do push-ups. A few students were invited from the stands to participate in a free throw shooting contest which was not a pretty sight, as not a single shot was made. It has been often rumored that free throw shooting is affected by the water in Georgetown.

The Men's and Women's Basketball team put on quite a dancing show. Even Nikita Mescheriakov looked like he has been rehearsing since last year! The highlight of the performance was JT III's tribute to Michael Jackson as he put on the Glove and directed the Hoyas in a choreographed Thriller Dance. As coach mentioned to Bill Raftery on ESPNU, dancing and defense are very similar.

As usual Midnight Madness is a first look at the incoming freshman: Hollis Thompson from Los Angeles, Vee Sanford from Kentucky, Jerrelle Benimon from Virginia, and walk-on Stephen Stepka from Fairfax, VA. All of the freshmen showed great athleticism. Hollis Thompson looked very smooth and versatile, while Vee Sanford showed some hops and explosiveness. Sanford was even singled out by JT III to do some solo dance steps.

As I left McDonough Arena I thought about all of the great basketball events I had seen there. The debut of Patrick Ewing. The Kenner League debuts of Michael Graham and Reggie Williams come to mind as well as the legendary debut of Allen Iverson. I remember the appearance of Dikembe Mutombo at Midnight Madness as well as his Kenner League MVP performances. The unveiling of the NBA jerseys of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert had been great moments, along with this year's uveiling of DaJuan Summers Detroit Pistons jersey. However, my favorite sight at McDonough is the Final Four Banners along with the 1984 NCAA Championship Banner. After all, at Georgetown it is always about the team first! I remember when the 2007 banner was unveiled, the noise level in McDonough was as loud as I can ever remember. When the team went through practice drills at Midnight Madness it reminds us of all the hard work our team goes through. Our student-athletes are truly special. If you are an active Hoya Hoop Club member please consider coming to the team's open practice next Saturday October 24th. You can find more information as well as how to RSVP through the official website. If you are not a current member please consider joining and supporting our team and Georgetown! The HHC communications group will continue to bring you coverage during the year with the Open Practice being our next event. Georgetown Midnight Madness 2009 was truly a Thriller!
We are Georgetown! Hoya Saxa!

Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Hoya Hoop Club Vice-President and Communications Director
Proud Member of Generation Ewing

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life Begins at Midnight Madness

Since my days as a student living in Village A W-203 I have looked forward to the month of October. I love the autumn weather with the chill in the air, football games, the World Series, and best of all the start of the college basketball season. Midnight Madness was started by Lefty Driesell at the University of Maryland in 1970 and is now a major event at most major college basketball programs. For most of the career of John Thompson, Jr. the Hoyas did not participate in all of the hype. GTown simply had our players show up to their first practice on a Saturday morning to closed doors. Like many of my gym rat basketball friends, I have spent many an evening playing pick-up games at Yates or in the courts in front of McDonough Gymnasium. We often had to be chased out of Yates as Greg Spriggs wanted to close down the gym. We dreamt of hearing the roar of the crowd, and serving up the alley-oop to Patrick Ewing.
Georgetown Midnight Madness has evolved into another one of those unique Hoya experiences. The students led by Hoya Blue lead the cheers, and enjoy burgers from the GU Grilling Society. It is often the showcase for the new college basketball video games. As the doors prepare to open, students line up in front of the giant inflatable Jack the Bulldog. It is a magical evening as the mobile phones and cameras light up the gym to the roar of the crowd. Students, and potential recruits watch with delight as the men's and women's basketball teams, cheerleaders, stepping teams, etc. show put on a show. Coach JT III leads his team in the cheer: "We are Georgetown!" For one day, one evening the world is simple again. We are all looking to see the first college glimpse of the next Georgetown superstar in the tradition of Ewing, Mourning, and Mutombo. Yet we all know at Georgetown it is about the team first! We should be all proud to see our team as they travel around the country well dressed in suits and ties unlike many other programs. After all we are all proud to wear the Blue & Gray! We are Georgetown!
Our Hoya Hoop Club Communication team will be working hard all evening to post information on Midnight Madness in our HHC Blog, Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter (@hoyahoopclub). So whether you are in McDonough, watching on campus, or on ESPNU, if you look and listen you can probably see the flashing lights and the roar of the crowd. Hoya Saxa! Let the year begin!

Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Proud Member of Generation Ewing

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Countdown to Midnight Madness: Week 1 The Game of the Century

There have been very few events in the history of college sports like the December 11, 1982 game between Georgetown and Virginia, and the battle of their centers Patrick Ewing and Ralph Sampson. While it is impossible to compare teams and players from different eras, there is no doubt that this was one of the most hyped regular season games in college basketball history. The game was a $1.25 million dollar production, in front of a sold out Capital Centre. It was a unique made for television game that helped launch Ted Turner's WTBS Cable Super Station. Georgetown would lose this night 68-63, in a tightly contested game. The only other college basketball game of similar magnitude had been the Elvin Hayes-Lew Alcindor matchup in 1968 in the Astrodome. Tickets were scalping for up to $300-$500, an enormous sum in the early 1980's.

The game was a contrast between the senior-led Virginia Cavaliers and the reigning college player of the year 7-4 Ralph Sampson, and the young Hoyas fresh off a close NCAA championship loss to Michael Jordan and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Patrick Ewing had skyrocketed into the national limelight with his dominating performance in the national title game. It was the battle of the young and old, Big East vs. ACC. The Hoyas were ice cold through the first half as their youth and inexperience was evident. However, it was the first time senior Ralph Sampson had faced a player who could block his shot, as sophomore sensation Patrick Ewing had come to play. In the second half the Hoyas made a furious comeback. As John Thompson, Jr. would say it was more sheer determination than execution as the Hoyas vaunted all-court press almost brought the Virginia Cavaliers to their knees. However, it was too little too late. There was one exchange that will forever be remembered. Ralph Sampson took a back-door lob pass over Patrick Ewing for a dunk. Then Ewing called for the ball, and delivered what I consider to be the greatest dunk in college basketball history, as he turned into Ralph Sampson and threw down a ferocious tomahawk dunk as the crowd roared. Even Sampson had to admit that it was a great "dunk." Bullets GM and many NBA scouts would marvel that they now understood the true power of the future NBA #1 Pick Patrick Ewing.

Although in this last of the Countdown to Midnight Madness games, the Hoyas suffered a disappointing loss. John Thompson, Jr. was prophetic in saying that he would not trade Patrick Ewing. The Hoyas would go on to two more Final Fours and NCAA Championship games in the next three years. They would learn a great deal from this game and season. They would learn about teamwork, defense, and rebounding. They would go on to win the NCAA Championship in 1984, and become one of the most dominant teams in NCAA basketball history. Indeed this game was not just Patrick Ewing against Ralph Sampson. The Georgetown Hoyas have always been about the team first as Michael Jackson, David Wingate and others would help lead the Hoyas comeback. After this night, Ralph Sampson would go on to an injury-ridden lackluster NBA career whereas Patrick Ewing would become the New York Knicks' all-time leading scorer, an NBA Hall of Famer, and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Indeed the victory over Duke at Verizon Center in 2006 was a game for the ages, but this game on December 11, 1982 was an historic event much larger than just college basketball. There was something different in the air.

To read more go to:

We are Georgetown! Hoya Saxa! Let the Madness Begin!

Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Proud Member of Generation Ewing

Friday, October 2, 2009

Countdown to Midnight Madness: Week 2 Beast of the East, the Big East vs. the ACC

December 5, 1979 GU routs Maryland 83-71 at the DC Armory. In one of the legendary games in DC basketball history, the Hoyas dissected a powerful Maryland team that would dominate the ACC going on to a #8 national ranking. In 1978, Eric "Sleepy Floyd" had his coming out party as GTown downed the Terrapins 68-65 in Landover, MD. However, many in the area considered that a deviation as the ACC was the most feared basketball conference in the country, and Maryland led by Albert King was expected to flex its muscles vs Georgetown. However, it was the duo of former DC Dunbar stars John Duren and Craig Shelton who controlled the flow of the game and not the more heralded Albert King, and Ernie Graham. 6 foot 7 inch shooting guard Ernie Graham from MD was terrorizing the country with 40 point shooting performances. Yet it was once again "Sleepy Floyd" who dominated Ernie Graham with a sizzling shooting performance, and great defense blocking several of Ernie Graham's shots and using pressure "D" to take him out of its rhythm. The Hoyas were in control throughout to the surprise of many college basketball experts. There was a great intensity in the crowd as John Thompson, Jr. and Lefty Driesell had to be separated at mid-court in the midst of their famed shouting match. Only the two of them will ever know what was said, but this confrontation was followed by many years where GU and Maryland would not schedule each other. The Hoyas would again soundly defeat ACC champion MD in the NCAA tournament that year on their way to the Elite 8. Indeed this was one of the great teams in Hoya history. This season would see the formation of the Big East Conference where Georgetown would share the Big East Regular Season title with Syracuse, and St. John's and then win the first Big East Conference Tournament. Georgetown was given the coveted title of "Beast of the East" and lead the Big East Conference to national prominence. Indeed on this night in Washington, D.C., right in the view of the US Capitol, was the start of a great basketball conference and a shift in local power from Maryland to Georgetown. Thanks to that Hoya team ('79-'80) for leading the rise of Georgetown and the Big East in the Modern Era! We are Georgetown! Hoya Saxa!

Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Proud Member of Generation Ewing