As a fan rooting for the GW men’s basketball team Tuesday night in its loss to Rhode Island, I have one thing to say.
It wasn’t our fault.
Not since the glory days of the Massachusetts-GW rivalry has the Smith Center been so raucous, so loud, and so filled with students.
My friends and I arrived at the Smith Center about half an hour before game time, like we usually do. “Half an hour before game time” usually means we get some decent seats – if not in the lower student section, at least in the middle of the upper section.
To our amazement, the only seats left on the student side of the court were in the upper level, beyond the end of Rhode Island’s bench. Shortly after we sat down, the Smith Center event staffers were forced to put students in paid seats because of the influx of people still pouring into the arena from the G Street entrance.
I had a feeling, though, that the massive crowd might be a tame, fair weather crowd. I thought they might have showed up just because GW had vaulted as high as 17th in one national poll.
The crowd quickly proved me wrong, though, as much of the student section stayed on its feet, cheering from the time GW stepped on the court until the team left after its initial warm-up.
Perhaps it was this raw enthusiasm that made the loss to the Rams that much more tormenting to the fans. When GW simply couldn’t buy a bucket in the second half, the crowd agonized after each Colonial brick, near-miss and airball that clanked off, rolled on or sailed over the rim.
But I kept cheering along with about 5,000 other fans as we watched our team slowly get dismantled by the Rams in the second half. At least we know GW didn’t lose because of us.