Georgetown rumored to end Duke basketball series

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.

5 Comments on “Georgetown rumored to end Duke basketball series

  1. I’m ambivalent towards this move because even if beating Duke was a great thing to do, if we don’t schedule them, it just means we can schedule more hateable teams like Memphis, Kentucky, etc. I don’t really buy that the Duke rivalry meant a massive increase in turnout because we had the same turnout we had for Duke vs. Memphis 2 years ago, which was one of, if not the first time we played them at Verizon. I’m not willing to take automatic losses because of refereeing, in order to MAYBE get hard-fought, well-deserving wins.

  2. I’m sure JTIII has his reasons, but the 2006 game resurrected Georgetown basketball, and I think really defined the experience for those of us in the Wallace/Green/Hibbert era. For better or worse, there’s a certain attention that comes from playing Duke, and a certain respect that comes with beating them. It was nice when we at least gave ourselves a regular chance at that, as well as a guaranteed sell-out of the too-big-for-our-school Verizon Center. Which reminds me–hopefully next time these two teams have a home-and-home, they’ll meet at the Thompson Center on Georgetown’s campus.

  3. While it was definitely fun to beat Duke, especially this year as a) the President was there and b) they went on to win the tournament, I’d be just as happy playing UNC, Kansas, Michigan State, Kentucky, etc. These teams certainly have large fan bases who’d want to buy tickets, and with the exception of UNC (who will probably be good again soon), they were all really good last season. In other words, like Hoya I’d be glad to continue playing Duke, but it wouldn’t bother me to play some other big name instead.

  4. I agree with Mike that, unless you were there for the 2006 game (which I was), it’s tough to necessarily see how much beating Duke that day did for Gtown basketball. However, I understand JTIII’s desire to avoid interruptions in conference play and, ultimately, I want Gtown to have an excellent overall season, so if opting out of this series contributes to that, I’m in support of it. Also, Mike, I’m sure you’ll agree that getting into the Final Four ranks higher on the list of experience-defining moments than beating Duke, so maybe we should keep the bigger picture in mind.

  5. If this rumor is true, I think ii is a bad mistake on Georgetown’s part. The Duke game was a highlight of their season, a resume burnisher if they just played well, let alone when they won, and great tournament practice. I hope this rumor is untrue because I had a higher opinion of JT III than this.

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