According to the Burlington Times News, Georgetown decided not to renew its home-and-away basketball series with Duke.
The series, which began in 2003 under former Georgetown coach Craig Esherick, produced some of the most memorable Hoya moments of the past several seasons, including this year’s Obama-attended drubbing of the eventual national champion Blue Devils.
The Times News reports that the series was ended at Georgetown’s request, which, if true, is a curious choice for Head Coach John Thompson III. Few non-conference opponents impress the NCAA selection committee as often as Duke does, while the Blue Devils’ ability to attract fans and national exposure can never be discounted.
When reached for comment, Senior Director of Sports Communications Bill Shapland dismissed the Times News report.
“We don’t address rumors,” Shapland said.
During the recent seasons, television considerations forced Georgetown to play Duke in January—right in the middle of an always-grueling Big East slate. In the past, Thompson expressed his displeasure with having to interrupt conference play for Duke.
Whatever the reason may be, it’s sad to see a budding rivalry potentially end just as it was heating up. Games against Duke never had the same history and animosity as those against Syracuse or even against some of Georgetown’s secondary Big East rivals, but the athletic department’s decision to make the Duke match-up the annual “gray-out” game sent a message to fans who didn’t already know—playing the Blue Devils was a big deal.
Duke has arguably been the defining opponent of the JTIII era. They helped to put the Hoyas back on the map nationally when Georgetown’s court-storming upset of No. 1 Duke in 2006 heralded the rise of Thompson and his squad of Jonathan Wallace, Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, et al. (And we all remember the 12-point thumping Georgetown handed to Duke last January.)
The Blue Devils represented some of the highest of the highs (2006, 2010) and the lowest of the lows (2009, when Greg Monroe‘s phantom technical and a loss sent a promising season into freefall) in the past few years.
The decision actually has no impact on the schedule for the upcoming season, as the series followed a two-years on, one-year off format. The Hoyas would have been scheduled to return to Cameron in the 2011-12 season. But not all hope is lost for another meeting—both Georgetown and Duke are slated to participate in the 2011 Maui Invitational. Should the teams meet up, JTIII will simply trade a game in Durham for one in Hawaii.