Casually taking over the world (wide web)

November 11, 2010

Casual isn’t a word we often associate with Georgetown basketball. But don’t tell that to Andrew Geiger (COL ‘99), better known online as Casual Hoya, the co-founder of the eponymous Georgetown basketball blog.

“Certain people are casual. Certain foods are casual. Certain things are casual. And certain Big East teams that play at the Verizon Center can be both casual and not casual depending on the game,” Geiger wrote in an email.

Casual Hoya isn’t just a bored alum’s musing, however; it’s become many fans’ go-to source for everything Georgetown basketball. As the site’s audience responded favorably to its unique style, traffic rose by more than 900 percent between September 2009 and September 2010.

It all started after Geiger was fired from “some awful finance job” and began writing about Georgetown basketball online as Casual Hoya in 2008. He started off on his own, but within mere months, SB Nation approached him to join its sports blog network.

“We aim to bring in the most high quality, fan-centric communities out there. Casual Hoya was and is a perfect example of that,” Tyler Bleszinski, founder and executive director of SB Nation, wrote in an email.

Before he would join SB Nation, Geiger needed some help. He recruited Ankit Bishnoi (MSB ‘06), who ran a personal Georgetown basketball blog under the pseudonym Hire Esherick.

“Casual contacted me to start the SB Nation thing with him,” Bishnoi wrote in an email. “I thought the idea of merging blogs was funny and went along with it. Worst decision ever.”

Although Casual Hoya launched less than two years ago, it is already a success by any standard. The site draws more than 13,000 daily page views during the basketball season and now boasts three more anonymous editors: Jeff Green’s Dad, itsallthatmatters, and lordnick. Even Matt Glaude, the man behind the Syracuse basketball blog Hoya Suxa, offered his compliments to the gang.

“I used to read [Bishnoi’s blog], then when they moved over to SB Nation, I started reading [Casual Hoya] like everyone else,” Glaude said. “It’s definitely changed things for me. I’m watching as many Hoyas games as I am Orange games now, which is nuts.”

Casual Hoya did have its bumps, however. Last year, Bishnoi and Geiger heard rumors about members of the men’s basketball team reading their blog posts. Henry Sims and Julian Vaughn began to tease Casual Hoya through their Twitter accounts.

Although the writers responded to the jabs—they even established their collective self as the arch-nemesis to Vaughn’s Swagman, his online superhero alter-ego—they had trouble reconciling objective, critical blogging with their desire to see the Hoyas win.

“We’ve decided that interacting with the players is something we’re not going to do going forward,” Geiger wrote. “At the end of the day it’s our job to report on Hoya hoops and engaging guys on the team doesn’t do anything to help us achieve that.”

Together, the five-man editorial staff covers Georgetown basketball unlike any newspaper or sports media outlet: Bishnoi is the closest to a traditional sports journalist, Geiger adds a funny, whimsical edge, and the rest of the staff provide fans’ perspectives to the site. They are tight-knit group. Despite only meeting in person once a year, they trade 100 to 150 emails back and forth daily.

“[We’re] the bestest of blog friends,” Geiger wrote. “One weekend out of the year we host a Casual Extravaganza D.C. on a day when the Hoyas play that allows us to all get together and make fun of one another in person as opposed to our usual email forum.”

On Casual Hoya’s front page, capital-lettered text declares that the blog is a “global phenomenon.” The claim isn’t far from the truth; Casual Hoya headbands, which were given away at the Verizon Center last year, have popped up as far away as Spain, Zimbabwe, and the Virgin Islands.

And though it may not be a global phenomenon yet, Casual Hoya has definitely conquered the Hilltop.

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Vincent Tennant

“Casual contacted me to start the SB Nation thing with him,” Bishnoi wrote in an email. “I thought the idea of merging blogs was funny and went along with it. Worst decision ever.”

Chris, why did he say it was the “worst decision ever”?



Probably a joke, in keeping with the tone of the site