Georgetown Basketball's 10 Best Moments and Performances of 2009-10
Despite a disappointing end to the season in the first round of the NCAA tournament (screw you, Ohio), the 2009-10 Georgetown Hoyas produced some highlight moments that the Hoya faithful will revere for years to come.
The Hoyas, fresh off a head-scratching 16-15 season in 2008-09, notched huge wins over long-time rivals this year, with some players putting up record performances. Let's not forget the team's surprising run to the finals of the Big East tournament.
But which plays, players, and games will stand the test of time?
Here are the 10 best moments and performances of the 2009-10 season for the Georgetown Hoyas.
No. 10: Julian Vaughn Owns the Paint Against Washington
A week after notching their first Top-25 win of the season, Georgetown headed out to the West Coast to take on Washington in the Wooden Classic. Thanks to a career night from Julian Vaughn, the Hoyas left with their second Top-25 win in eight days.
JuJu scored a career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked two shots against Washington, a team that ended up making it to the Sweet 16 this year.
"Jules is going to have a few more nights like tonight," coach John Thompson said after the game. "He's done a really good job being a presence for us. We just went to him, and he did what he was supposed to do."
Julian scored six early points in the second half as the Hoyas went on a decisive run, opening up a 20-point lead against the Huskies. For a guy who averaged 1.8 points back in '08-'09, Vaughn's assertiveness was a welcome surprise in the early parts of the season for Hoya fans.
Unfortunately, Vaughn reportedly caught whatever flu bug floated around the team in February, and never seemed to fully recover for the rest of the season. Hoya fans are hoping that Vaughn can revert to this Washington-game form next season.
No. 9: Chris Wright's Coming Out Party Against Harvard
A week and a half after defeating Washington, the Hoyas welcomed Harvard to D.C. for a Battle of the Brainiacs. Harvard was no joke, with senior guard Jeremy Lin always a threat to drop 25 on an unsuspecting high-major team.
Georgetown had an answer for Lin, however: Chris Wright. Wright had a career-high 34 points, six rebounds, four assists, six steals, and a block in 35 minutes of action against the Crimson.
To get an idea of how unprecedented 34 points in a game is for a JTIII-coached player: The only other player to have ever scored 30-plus for JTIII was Jeff Green, in the semi-finals of the 2007 Big East tournament against Notre Dame (one other player would be added to this list in the coming months).
Wright was coming off a rough 2-of-8 outing in Georgetown's first loss of the season to Old Dominion, in a game where the Hoyas learned NEVER TO INVITE OLD DOMINION BACK TO MCDONOUGH AGAIN.
For Georgetown fans worried that the "Wrecking Ball" was on course to wreck the Hoyas' season, Wright quickly shattered those perceptions by absolutely dominating the second half, where he scored 21 of his 34 points.
After this game, Georgetown didn't just have Greg Monroe; the Hoyas were a three-headed monster with Monroe, Austin Freeman (who scored a then-career-high 21 points), and Mr. Wright.
No. 8: Beating Butler in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden
Long before Butler grabbed the nation's heart by being a half-court three-pointer away from winning the national championship, the Hoyas had familiarized themselves with the Bulldogs in the Jimmy V Classic in early December.
The Hoyas traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on their first ranked team of the season (Butler was ranked 20th at the time), in what was seen as the true out-of-conference barometer game for Georgetown.
Thanks to Greg Monroe's brilliance, Georgetown's season was off to a fine start. Monroe had 25 points and 14 rebounds—both career highs—along with two assists, a steal, and two blocks in a 72-65 win over the Bulldogs.
Monroe dominated the post on both ends of the floor, as Butler's Matt Howard only scored nine points on 1-of-9 shooting. And in a true surprise, the overly-unselfish Monroe took 20 shots on the night to get his 24 points, ensuring that he'd be a deciding factor in the game.
"Monroe was a real authoritative spirit inside," said Butler coach Brad Stevens. "To see how big an effect he had just look at our shooting percentages, we were higher on threes than twos."
This game makes the list for two reasons: For Monroe's early-season breakout game, and for the Hoyas beating the eventual national finalists on a neutral court.
No. 7: Greg Monroe's Dominance in the Big East Tournament Semifinals
After Greg Monroe's performance against Marquette in the Big East tournament semifinals, I more or less accepted that he'd be leaving Georgetown for the NBA draft after the season.
Monroe put up the best stat line for any JTIII player: 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, and one three-pointer that broke Marquette's will to live.
To say Monroe dominated Marquette's undersized lineup would be an understatement. Monroe had six points and an assist by the first TV timeout, and refused to take his foot off the pedal the whole game.
Starting with 10 minutes left in the second half, Monroe put up five points (including his three-pointer), four rebounds, an assist, and a block in the next five minutes.
Total. Domination. Monroe's brilliance in this game should be remembered fondly by Hoya fans for a long, long time...as they watch him on the Detroit Pistons with Dajuan Summers next season.
No. 6: Austin Freeman's "Diabetes" Game Against Cincinnati
In late February, Austin Freeman suddenly came down with flu-like symptoms, and missed the Hoyas' game at West Virginia on March 1 because he was busy being hospitalized back in Washington.
Those flu-like symptoms turned out to be diabetes.
Under a doctor's watchful eye, Freeman returned to the team in the Hoyas' final game of the regular season, a home game against Cincinnati.
Since the Hoyas had no seniors on the roster, the game effectively turned into Austin Freeman day. Before the game, JTIII awarded Freeman a game ball for passing the 1,000 point plateau in his Georgetown career, and Freeman kept the momentum rolling from there.
Freeman quickly reminded Hoya fans what they were missing without him, as he scored 24 points (including four three-pointers) in 30 minutes against the Bearcats.
Seeing Freeman, one of Georgetown's Big Three, back healthy and dominating on the hardwood gave Georgetown fans reason for optimism going into the postseason.
No. 5: Jason Clark Rains Three-Pointers on Villanova
Since breakout performances have been all the rage of this list so far, it'd be wrong to leave out one of the most transcendent performances of a Georgetown role player in years.
Jason Clark avenged Georgetown's mid-January loss to Villanova when they came to D.C. in early February, as he knocked down 6-of-7 three-pointers en route to a career-high 24 points in a 103-90 win over the Wildcats (let's not forget, Georgetown fans enjoy any and all wins over the team that stole the 1985 national championship from the Hoyas while high on cocaine.).
Clark was perfect in his 17-point first-half, going 4-for-4 behind the three-point line and 6-for-6 from the field total.
One of the best moments of the game came after Clark knocked down his fifth three-pointer of the game—check out his face in the ESPN recap.
Up until this game, Georgetown knew that Greg Monroe, Chris Wright, or Austin Freeman could break out for 25-30 points in any given game. After Clark exploded against the Wildcats, Georgetown seemed to have a legitimate scoring threat at every starting position.
No. 4: Greg Monroe's 12 Assist Game Against Providence
Lost in the excitement of the big win over 'Nova was the record set by Greg Monroe three days later in a road win over Providence.
Monroe set the record for assists in a single game for a Big East center by dishing 12 dimes. Monroe finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, and 12 assists, in one of the stranger double-doubles you'll ever see for a center.
Monroe's got the reputation for being unselfish, almost to a fault, but in this game, Monroe trapped the Friars right where he wanted them.
Time and time again, Providence would double-team Monroe whenever he would touch the ball, and Monroe would find an open cutter slashing towards the basket for an easy two points.
He managed those 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and a 4-of-5 day from the free throw line, but he made up for his unselfishness by assisting nine made buckets in the second half.
Any record-setting performance in a major conference deserves some high consideration for one of the best moments of a season. Monroe's Chris Paul impression is no different.
No. 3: President Obama Witnesses a Hoya Beatdown of Duke
Six inches of snow couldn't keep the president away from a Saturday college basketball matchup between Georgetown and Duke in late January, and the Hoyas couldn't have responded better to the pressure.
Austin Freeman, Greg Monroe, and Chris Wright each scored 20 or more points to lead the Hoyas to an 89-77 victory over the future national champions in their most embarrassing loss of the season.
With the nation's chief and the vice president in attendance, the Hoyas opened up a 20-point lead in the second half over the Blue Devils amidst a largely-Georgetown contingent of 20,000 screaming fans.
President Obama made sure to enjoy his Saturday, hopping down to the announcer's booth in the second half for a quick chat with Clark Kellogg and Verne Lundquist. (Obama said he would be coming after Kellogg's job once he's done with being president.)
The game had everything a Georgetown fan could ask for: dominating performances by Georgetown players, beating a hated rival, getting a huge fan base in the stands, and drawing some positive attention to your program (hey recruits...did you know Barack Obama will come to your games?).
In case you wanted more Obama, the Associated Press seemed to have cameras trained on the PotUS all game:
No. 2: Hoyas Beat Syracuse in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals
Few things make Georgetown fans happier than beating Syracuse. Doing it in the Big East tournament when the Orange are the No. 1 seed...that's one of those things.
In the Hoyas' first crack against Syracuse this season, the Hoyas opened the game on a 14-0 run before getting blown out at the Carrier Dome. At home, they were down 23 at one point in the second half before cutting 'Cuse's lead to one, but they couldn't finish the deed in the final minutes.
The third try was the charm, thanks to a heroic 27-point, six-rebound, six-assist night from Chris Wright.
Wright led a fearless assault against the Orange's vaunted 2-3 zone defense, as the Hoyas shot 57.9 percent from the field for the game. Suddenly, the teams that drew Syracuse in the NCAA tournament had a blueprint on how to beat their physically harrowing defense.
Wright wasn't the only Hoya to put up solid numbers: Monroe finished three assists shy of a triple-double with a 15/10/7 night, Freeman ended up with 18 points and Jason Clark poured in 17 on the night.
The Hoyas crushed the Orange and ended up moving on to the Big East tournament finals.
Check out the ESPN highlights of the Hoyas' upset over the Orange:
No. 1: Austin Freeman's 33-Point Outburst Against UConn
I may have a soft spot in my heart for this one because it was the only Georgetown game I could attend this year.
But more likely, I'll remember this game more than any other for Austin Freeman's "Eff You, We Are Not Losing This Game" second-half. After scoring only five points in the first half and going into the locker room down 15 at halftime to UConn, Freeman exploded for 28 points in the final 20 minutes to guide the Hoyas to a thrilling 72-69 win.
For what it's worth, that's only the second highest scoring half in Georgetown's history. Freeman finished 12-of-20 from the floor, a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, and 5-of-9 from three-point land.
Personally, at halftime, I was texting friends messages of despair such as: "I don't know why JTIII recruits such [expletive deleted] players, but I wish they'd MAN UP and get a rebound." Then Freeman restored my faith in Georgetown.
In fact, when I go back to look at this season, I'll point out this game as the turning point of the season—the Hoyas' announcement that the ghosts of 2008-09 were officially gone.
All of that swagger from this season should be traced back to Freeman's other-worldly performance.
And despite Monroe putting up more technically impressive stat lines, or Wright having a higher scoring game, Freeman's game against UConn strikes me as not just the most amazing performance of the year...but as the most amazing performance of a Georgetown player since Jeff Green donned the blue and gray.
Take a look at some of the game's highlights below: