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TOP 20
November 29, 1976
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November 29, 1976

Top 20

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Not many Georgetown residents know what a Hoya is. (In fact, no one knows.) The term is supposedly derived from a Greek-Latin phrase, hoia saxa—what rocks—coined to describe an early Georgetown team nicknamed the Stonewalls. But whatever the Hoyas may be, they are essentially young, gifted and black. Coach John Thompson, the ham-fisted giant who is in his fifth year at Georgetown, has 11 lettermen returning from last season's 21-7 squad that made it to the NCAA West Regional, and only two of them are seniors. It was the second straight year for Georgetown to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament, only to be knocked out in the first round, and this year just making the postseason show may not be enough to satisfy the ambitious Hoyas.

Thompson has been able to reduce the exodus of talented Washington high school prospects from the District by establishing contacts at the playground level, and his efforts have begun to pay off. Last year he brought in 6'7" Forward Al Dutch from Carroll High School, a silky shooter who averaged 11.6 points at Georgetown. This year Thompson once again got the area's top forward in 6'7" Craig Shelton, who averaged 21 points and 20 rebounds a game and led his Dunbar High team to a 29-0 season. Another Georgetown freshman, 6'3" Guard John Duren, scored 19 points a game for that same Dunbar team. He is one of three guards who could start beside the Hoyas' top scorer, junior Derrick Jackson, who averaged 17 points last year.

A great deal will depend on how long it takes Shelton to recover from a shattered kneecap, an injury he suffered in a high school All-Star game last spring. Thompson hopes he will be ready to play by January. "I think we can be a good team without Craig," Thompson says. "With him, we can be a very good team."

Georgetown will fast-break at every opportunity, and sometimes even when there is no opportunity. Thompson believes in the full-court press and the 25-foot turnaround jump shot. He will use nine players in equal doses.

The Hoyas prepared for the season with an eight-game tour of Taiwan, during which they discovered that playing conditions in local gymnasiums sometimes included bats hovering above the court. This season it is Georgetown's turn to drive its opponents batty.


Here they come bounding out of history: Bob Cousy beating Loyola of Chicago with his first behind-the-back dribble; Tommy Heinsohn shooting that running hook shot; Togo Palazzi, at 44 still almost unbeatable at one-on-one; Jack (The Shot) Foley, the most prolific scorer in New England college history. That's basketball at Holy Cross.

And how better to revivify a legend than with something of a throwback, like freshman Guard Ronnie Perry Jr. The son of the school athletic director, young Perry is no doubt aware that Holy Cross won the 1947 NCAA and 1954 NIT championships. He probably knows, too, of the crummy areas that the Crusaders used as "home" courts and practice gyms—a Quonset hut, a cow barn, a temperance hall, an orchestra pit—until $3 million, 4,000-capacity Hart Recreation Center opened last year. And even though he set a state schoolboy scoring record at West Roxbury's Catholic Memorial High, Perry plays an old-fashioned all-round game. "I don't feel any real pressure," he says. "There's so much balance I just want to mold with these guys."

He won't have to score a ton for the Crusaders, but Perry does give Holy Cross the good-shooting guard it lacked last season (22-10). The team is strongest at forward, where Puerto Rican Olympian Michael Vicens averaged 15 points a game, and Chris Potter is expected to increase his 12-point output. Swingman Bill Doran, who averaged 14 points a game, is a superb clutch player, and Guards Pete Beckenbach and Kevin McAuley are patient feeders and expert ball hawks. The only significant losses through graduation were Centers Marty Halsey and Jim Dee, who together averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds. "John O'Connor is better defensively than either of them," says Coach George Blaney, "and our freshman Charlie Browne is more physical." The Crusaders, however, always seem to have injury problems. Browne suffered chipped bones in his right ankle during practice and won't be 100% until January, and McAuley had to skip much of the preseason following knee surgery. Although the schedule is not exactly taxing, Holy Cross' admission standards are; they just about rule out anyone who doesn't have a 3.0 average. But Blaney sees this as a plus. "We need bright players," he says, "because we ask them to play at two completely different tempos—very fast on defense with zone traps, man-to-man presses and fast breaks after steals, but very patiently on offense. That's why when I recruit, I look first for attitude and second for quickness. Height is overrated. Vicens is listed at 6'5", but he's actually about 6'3�" and he can jump with anyone."

Indeed, the starting lineup averages just 6'5". The last NCAA champion that small was UCLA in 1964 and 1965. And you know the tradition it started.

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