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Our First Brush With Greatness(ish): A Q&A With Casual Hoya.

If you're not familiar with THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON that is SBN's Georgetown devoted blog, now is probably the time to start reading.  Casual Hoya, for the uninitiated, is one of the premier college basketball blogs on SBN.  Go, visit now.  You'll be better for it.

But enough ass kissing: in anticipation of tonight's Marquette - Georgetown game, the fellas at Casual Hoya (briefly) interrupted their Syracuse victory lap to answer some questions about the Hoyas, the DC bar scene, and, of course, Craig Esherick. (And, in keeping with Jesuit tradition, we reciprocated over at Casual Hoya.)

AE: Let's get the serious stuff out of the way: how's Austin Freeman?

Super, thanks for asking!  By all accounts Freeman will have to have his blood sugar levels monitored for awhile and there's a doctor on the Hoyas bench during the games in case things get hairy, but he should be good to go. He dropped 18 against Cuse, so you should expect more of the same against the Golden Eagles and your fru-fru uniforms.

AE: Georgetown had a little hiccup near the end of the year, but they've come back like a bat out of hell in the tournament. So: what happened? Is it mostly Freeman-related, or something else?

I wouldn't say it was a hiccup at the end of year as much as it was a pattern throughout the year. The reality is this team plays well in big games and tends to overlook opponents they deem unworthy. That theory explains the losses to Old Dominion, Rutgers and South Florida. As for the late season swoon everyone was talking about, basically Freeman is our best player and he didn't play for two games. It was unclear to me why Robbie Hummel could be hurt and that complete excused Purdue's losses, yet Austin Freeman was diagnosed with diabetes and the Hoyas were crumbling. When this team buckles down and plays defense, it can compete with anyone in the country.

After the jump: on the 'Cuse - G'town rivalry, bulldogs with body issues, and Craig Esherick. 

AE: We're still the newbies of the Big East, so I don't know if we fully appreciate the Georgetown - Syracuse rivalry. Is it at all friendly, or is it an unwavering, deep-seated HATE?

It is an unwavering, deep-seated HATE. The rivalry began in 1980, the inaugural season of the Big East, when John Thompson Jr. announced that Manley Fieldhouse was officially closed after the Hoyas broke the 57-game home winning streak of the then #2 Orangemen on the closing night of the famed arena. Since then there have been punches, elbows, taunts and whines (all from Boeheim). There have been instances where Thompson threatened to pull his team off the court because of objects thrown from the stands and times when Georgetown students were pelted with bottles by the Cuse creatures at the Carrier Dome. Some contend that the rivalry has faded because Georgetown hit a lull in the late 90's and early 00's but consider this: there have been 30 Big East Tournament Championship games, Georgetown and/or Syracuse have been in 21 of them. I hate them. And they hate us. And that is the way it should be. The Big East is better for it.

AE: I'm gonna paraphrase Jack Nicholson in Batman: where do you find those wonderfully talented big men? 'Cuz we've been looking for about 7 years now, and we can't find a single one.

Big John had a way with words, none more powerful than his promise to the Jamaican born Patrick Ewing that it never snows down in DC. Obviously, that started the trend that continued through to Alonzo, Dikembe, and even toward the tail end of JT2's career with Jahidi and the Boumtje-Boumtje, and Boubacar Aw (the names are simply irresistible in print). For all his faults as a head coach, Escherick actually did a nice job bringing in a diamond in the rough in Roy Hibbert. Monroe is obviously a completely different story, who came out of high school as one of top 5 recruits in his class while also being a strong student.

We're as cynical as anyone but this comes down to tradition and for someone like Monroe, that combined with the chance for a good education (and wisdom beyond his years in passing up that douchey Duke University), were enough to head to the Hilltop.

AE: And, to follow up: are you happy with Greg Monroe's progress, or do you think he should be further along at this point?

Monroe can be an incredibly frustrating player because everyone in the gym can see his talent - we just don't always feel he has the drive. He's put up very pretty impressive numbers and Big East Rookie of the Year and First Team honors in consecutive years cannot be overlooked. There are moments when he simply takes over games - witness the 24 and 15 against Butler or 19 and 15 against Cincinnati - but there are also times when he shies away from dominating. This is all wishful thinking as another year could elevate his game and lead to a national championship but the kid is clearly a Top 10 pick overall and any NBA team that passes up to take a worthless project like Larry Sanders is delusional. Maybe that's not the #1 pick that some had hoped for but overall, he's progressed incredibly well.

AE: How deep of a run does Georgetown need to make in the tournamentfor the season to be qualified as a success? If you win the BEast tourney, does your answer change?

Personally after last season's debacle I just wanted to get make to the Dance, but given the way the Hoyas are capable of playing I would say that anything short of the Sweet Sixteen would be a disappointment. Georgetown has beaten 7 rpi top 25 teams which is as many as any team in the country, and if Cuse and Duke are #1 seeds then Georgetown will have taken two of them out already. Sweet Sixteen or bust.

AE: What's the best dive bar in Washington to watch a Georgetown game?

This is a sad question, because it is closed. Nathan's was not technically a dive, but it was clearly the best bar in all of Washington, D.C., and where, for instance, I watched Jeff Green's game winning shot against Vanderbilt before buying everyone shots--of Jim Beam. It was also the site of a Davidson gamewatch. But let's not talk about that. Alas, last year Nathan's closed forever. So, whatever, go to The Tombs.

AE: Craig Esherick: misunderstood?

What could we possibly misunderstand. In his final season he led Georgetown to its worst record since John Thompson's first season in 1972. We missed the freakin' NIT. He was a great assistant and recruiter but he couldn't coach or handle the program. The top gig is a tough spot, not everyone is cut out for it.

AE: The Casual Hoya looks awfully comfortable with his body, despite his somewhat prominent ponch. How does he do with the ladies?

He's a chill guy, so he does just fine. Considering the ASTOUNDING increase in girls we've all experienced since starting the blog, we know he's raking it in. Just this past weekend, his casual headbands were accessories in very familiar places for the wonderful dancers at a local DC exotic nightspace.

AE: Does Marquette have you at all nervous? Score prediction for tomorrow?

What? We're not playing Marquette in the BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP. That's like either Notre Dame or West Virginia. I have no idea why I am answering Marquette questions. Whatever. Hoyas 100 that other team 6. I am looking for my Delta Silver Medallion card so I can book shuttle tickets to New York for Saturday morning.