Reggie Cameron was 7 years old when he watched Georgetown and Syracuse play on TV that day in February 2002 when the Carrier Dome court was renamed “Jim Boeheim Court.”
“Darryl Watkins from Paterson Catholic was going there so I started watching Syracuse a lot because he was like family to me,” said Cameron, the Georgetown-bound small forward who grew up with the Playaz Basketball Club AAU program for which Watkins also played.
“And I remember they played Georgetown that day and I remember Georgetown beat them.”
Yes, let the record reflect that the Hoyas beat the Orange, 75-69, that day in one of many wars between the two storied Big East programs.
“I watch them every year,” said Cameron, who will lead Hudson Catholic into the Hudson County final against St. Peter’s Prep Saturday night at St. Peter’s College. “They’re always great, competitive, rugged games.”
But those competitive games are coming to an end.
Syracuse and Georgetown will meet for the last time at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, when the Orange will retire Carmelo Anthony’s jersey.
The two programs will then face off one last time during the regular season March 9 at the Verizon Center.
(It’s possible the teams could meet up in the Big East Tournament and/or the NCAA Tournament.)
Syracuse is headed to the ACC next season, while Georgetown will likely spend one more season in the Big East before breaking away with the Catholic 7 in 2014.
“It’s sad,” Cameron said. “I kind of wanted to play them. Maybe in a couple years they can schedule some games.”
Syracuse sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams has already talked some smack about the rivalry.
“We’ve always been better than them, always will be better than them,” he said, according to Syracuse.com. “And we just want to go out on top.”
Syracuse holds a 48-39 advantage over Georgetown all-time, with both teams winning one NCAA championship.
Georgetown has won seven Big East Tournament titles, while Syracuse has won five.
Ironically, Syracuse-bound point guard Tyler Ennis of St. Benedict’s Prep, the man who will likely replace Carter-Williams as the Orange’s starting point guard next season, will never get to taste the rivalry in the Big East.
“It’s sad that it has to come to an end, but hopefully coaches work out a deal to keep rivalry games like this and UConn and those type of teams, keep playing each other even if we’re not in the same conference,” Ennis told SNY.tv.
A native of the Toronto area, Ennis watched his first college game at the Carrier Dome as a kid and remained a Syracuse fan ever since, before ultimately committing to the Orange last fall.
Both he and Cameron are currently thriving for North Jersey programs. Cameron and Hudson Catholic shoot for the Hudson County title Saturday and then hope to dethrone Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony team in the upcoming North Non-Public B tournament.
“Right now, we’re 26-1 and I don’t think we’ve played our basketball yet,” Cameron said. “We’re ready. We had a taste of last year, we don’t want that taste again.”
Ennis, meantime, led St. Benedict’s to the New Jersey Prep title on Wednesday and is now hoping to get an invite to the ESPN national high school championship in April.
“It would be great to play him next year since both of us are coming from the same area and playing in the same area in New Jersey and then playing on a big stage in the Big East,” Ennis said before he caught himself. “But, you know.”
Ennis will join Syracuse just as they enter the ACC and he believes the Orange can build rivalries with Duke, North Carolina and the other ACC powers.
“I think it’s going to be an automatic rivalry coming in and playing at Duke or playing at North Carolina,” he said. “I think those are the rivalries that are just going to be naturally there.
“I think next year we’re going to have if not the same type of history, but I think it will be different types of rivals in the next few years.”