WASHINGTON – There are more than 100 trophies, plaques, statues and other mementos won by various Georgetown sports teams in the John Thompson Lobby at McDonough Memorial Gymnasium, including awards earned by the baseball, soccer, golf and track and field teams.
And of course, rows upon rows are dedicated to men’s basketball, including nets that have been cut down after the biggest wins, most of them overseen by the longtime Hall of Fame coach whose name is part of a mural near the lobby’s ceiling.
Not a single item in any of the trophy cases was won by a women’s basketball team.
“I’ve got two more years. We’re going to get something in there,” sophomore Sugar Rodgers said. “Even if I’ve got to put one of my trophies in there.”
It still might be news to some people, but, yes, Georgetown has a women’s basketball team. They play in 2,000-seat McDonough, not the 20,000-seat Verizon Center that hosts the men’s games. They’re a casual, accessible bunch who sit for interviews perched on an equipment room window, unlike the formal settings preferred by the “Hoya paranoia” men.
“It was bad to be a coach and work just as hard every day and have somebody say, ‘You play at Georgetown? I didn’t know they had a women’s team,’ ” coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “Now all of the air is absolutely sucked out of you.”
The identity crisis is on the wane. A year ago, the Hoyas broke into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1993 and for only the second time in school history. Now they are a mainstay in the polls, sitting at No. 18 this week with a 21-7 record heading into today’s home game against No. 1 Connecticut.
“Now we don’t get the question: ‘You’ve got women’s basketball at Georgetown?’ ” Williams-Flournoy said. “Now they ask you, ‘Hey, where are you ranked?’ or ‘What’s your record?’ ”
After scratching out a WNIT bid in 2009, Williams-Flournoy called together her assistants and said that’s not the way she envisioned coaching. The style was going to change. Press full-court, half-court. Pressure for 40 minutes. Run in transition the whole game. Enough of the set plays: If the players work hard on defense, then everybody gets the green light on offense. She got advice from Thompson, who told her to expect balls to go flying into the stands – because playing fast is hard.
The payoff will come on the day the women have something to put in one of those trophy cases.
“We’re the hidden treasure, right?” McNutt said. “Now, to our credit, you step inside our gym, you have our banner, when we returned to the (NCAA) tournament last year.
“It’s a little lonely over there, but it’s there. … Achieving something is one thing, but maintaining that success is a whole ’nother thing. Going forward, that’s going to be the trick to this program.”