Despite being an only child of two Temple alums – one being a die-hard college basketball fan, the other an avid shopper – I never grew up rooting whole-heartedly for the Owls program.
Sure I rooted for Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie in the mid-1990s, and unless it’s GW that they play, I won’t root against them as they truly have a shot for a national championship this season. But because my father wasn’t a big fan of Temple coach John Chaney, but rather a Rollie Massimino fan at Villanova University, I grew up exposed to Wildcats basketball. With season tickets to the Kerry Kittles-era during my high school years, I would sit with my father and love every minute of Villanova basketball.
The one thing I would always do during my high school years was watch those crazy college kids jump on each other and storm the court after great Wildcat victories. And although there truly is nothing greater than celebrating a great moment, like Villanova’s late season victory over then-No. 1 UConn in 1995, with my father, watching the students rush the court afterwards was an unforgettable moment.
As I look back, who knew then that my college basketball love would be GW? I had no clue that I’d be watching Mike Jarvis, and now Tom Penders, from a very short distance. I’ve been very fortunate to be at GW at a time when the program is NCAA-Tournament caliber. But nothing, absolutely nothing, no matter how emotional the losses to Oklahoma State and Indiana were, can measure up to how genuinely wonderful the home victory over Xavier felt last season. That victory, a buzzer-beater, which ultimately sent the Colonials to the NCAA Tournament, came amid the 5,000 screaming GW faithful. Rushing the court with my friends and fellow fans made that game and Shawnta Rogers legendary.
As this new season approaches, how could one not be excited to see the men’s and women’s basketball teams in action. There’s this new lightning-quick guard named SirValiant for the Colonials, and an Atlantic 10 Player-of-the-Year candidate, Elisa Aguilar, ready to light it up for the Colonial women. Penders and Colonial women’s head coach Joe McKeown are both approachable, friendly guys who love GW and its fans. They bring fun and excitement to GW basketball, and they receive tremendous respect from other coaches and fans across the country.
Both teams will have to play outstanding basketball this season to make their respective postseason tournaments, but it’s very possible that both could succeed. One key to GW’s success relies on you, me, and all our fellow students, faculty and administration that have made the Smith Center a true home-court advantage. So when Temple and John Chaney come to the Smith Center March 4th, with the Colonials a win away from a tournament berth, I hope you will be screaming at the top of your lungs for GW.