Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Hippo doesn’t make up for lack of tradition in GW sports

In this season of historical football trophies, Old Oaken Buckets and Old Tin Pails, something seems to be badly missing here at GW.

Tradition, rivalry – all that good college stuff.

Sorry, an expensive brass hippo doesn’t cut it.

I’m talking Army-Navy, Duke-North Carolina, Stanford-California – real tradition. Lehigh University has played Lafayette University in football every fall since 1865, 133 years of tradition since the end of the Civil War.

But let’s not get greedy. Instead, I propose GW start a genuine rivalry in its own most popular sport, basketball.

Coach Tom Penders says he wants students to come to the games, so what would be a better enticement than a genuine rivalry? But who shall be this worthy foe? The Atlantic 10 Conference has 12 members, and the D.C. metro area has six Division I basketball teams, so there’s definite potential.

Let’s start with GW’s home in the A-10 West. Dayton and Xavier in Ohio, Duquesne in Pittsburgh and La Salle of Philadelphia’s Big Five just aren’t natural rivals. That leaves the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Good try, but how can the Colonials’ mortal enemy be a Hokie. (What is a Hokie, anyway?)

The A-10 East has some perennial powerhouses worthy of a GW rivalry. Temple could make a great rival, but the Owls are also a part of the Big Five. St. Bonaventure and Fordham in New York are out of the question as is St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia (another Big Five team). That leaves Elite Eight squad Rhode Island. Not a bad choice, but they could turn out to be a fluke. And since UMass has dropped out of the upper echelon of college basketball, it seems like the Minuteman-Colonial rivalry that at one time consumed Foggy Bottom has kind of fizzled out.

That leaves the D.C. metropolitan area. American, George Mason and Howard aren’t anywhere near GW’s level (even though we play them every year), and Maryland is too busy in the ACC.

So that leaves Georgetown University, the closest thing to a natural rival GW has ever had. History clearly shows that the Colonials have had the Hoyas’ number. In 1906-’07 we creamed them twice in the same season, 18-10 and 26-10. Sure they beat us 54-8 in GW’s disappointing 1924-’25 campaign, but hey, a loss is a loss. Heck, in 1968-’69, we beat GU 112-74.

Enough with non-conference opponents like Holy Cross and St. Peter’s – fans don’t care about Central Connecticut State’s vaunted slow-down offense. No one’s going to watch another nail-biter against Slippery Rock University. Yes, for all the Colonial basketball buffs out there, GW played Pennsylvania’s own NCAA Division II member SRU at the Smith Center in the 1986-’87 season and pulled out the victory, 102-53.

Now consider the fact that from the 1973-’74 season to the 1978-’79 season, five straight years, no GW vs. Georgetown regular season game was won by more than four points by either team. In our last 20 meetings with G-town, we’ve won 10 and they’ve won 10. This rivalry shouldn’t have ended in the 1981-’82 season.

GW competes against Georgetown in virtually every sport BUT basketball. It’s time for that to change. One phone call from Coach Penders to Georgetown head coach John Thompson could change that and renew just about the only athletic tradition GW has.

Returning the GW-Georgetown basketball rivalry would give Coach Penders the Texas-sized crowds he’s used to seeing. Win or lose, though, a Colonials-Hoyas match-up would bring much-needed excitement to GW’s apathetic sports fans.

And maybe, just maybe, challenging our neighbors up the Potomac might bring out something that can’t be measured – a little more pride in the Buff and Blue.

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