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Guard Fred Brown: "The games are all a testing process. Some teams will go toe to toe with you, others will back off. You ever see anybody go to war smiling? In World War I did they go over the hill [sic] smiling? In Vietnam did anybody smile? This is major league ball, man."
Ewing: "Overaggressive? I'm over-aggressive? I'm usually the one that had the concussion or got hit in the eye. I'm all scarred up.... Intimidation is part of life. The strong get stronger and the weak get weaker."
Actually, Georgetown is often so imposing that potential questioners—not to mention opponents—are rendered speechless. As Thompson, no stranger to intimidation himself, so eloquently put it after a midseason 83-61 devastation of St. John's in New York, "I bring Patrick in here [to meet the press] and don't nobody ask him any questions."
That happened to be Thompson at his gruff, meanspirited, iconoclastic and odd-humored best. And though his methods may be questionable, his intentions seem laudable. He's a surpassingly bright, deep, discerning and articulate fellow who genuinely cares about his players' academic attainments—their graduation rate is very high. Nonetheless, on occasion Thompson plays the tough-guy role to the hilt, complete with such witty repartee as "get outta my face." More often than not, his team, along with its leather-jackets-and-chains image, appears to slip into precisely the same character. But, of course, that's the point.
"Georgetown has the panzer divisions and the swift tanks and the Luftwaffe and the long bombs," says St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca, one of last week's defeated generals. "They just completely destroy people, and, yeah, they scare the hell out of you."
Among several revelations in Georgetown's march through the Big East were Ewing's vastly improved scoring—his hands, once a liability, are now sure and powerful—and the team's overall defense and rebounding. The Hoyas out-rebounded their three opponents 120-70 last week; on average they beat their foes 40.7-30.9 off the glass, a differential second in the NCAA only to that of Northeastern, which may or may not count its hockey team's caroms. Earlier in the season Thompson was said to be consumed by a desire to prove he had the best sixth through 10th men in the land, and to prove it, he was sacrificing continuity for depth. The team lost a couple of games in the confusion, but the strategy seems to have paid off. It's no longer a contest: no team has a bench approaching that of Georgetown, which has gotten 38% of its scoring off the pines.
Freshman Reggie (the Wraith) Williams, sometimes the ninth man, filled in for the injured Jackson in a key midseason road game at Syracuse and scored 22 points. In retrospect, Thompson's shuffling of Bill Martin, Michael Graham and Ralph Dalton (formerly Ewing's caddie) at the big forward slot has seemed a stroke of genius. When Martin slumped, Graham got the starting call until he, too, was benched because of deficiencies in his "academic calendar" (Fenlon's favorite phrase). But Martin's rejuvenation as a sub was so invigorating for the team that Thompson has kept him in a reserve role. Now, just as opponents get used to the hulking 230-pound Dalton or the shaved-headed Graham accosting them at the point of the Hoyas' full-court zone press, the swift, angular Martin enters to change the rhythm and pace.
That defensive pressure, with everything backed up by Ewing, is keyed outside by 6'2" senior Gene Smith, a sub who usually replaces his classmate, Brown, and competes with a churning ferocity. Smith may have been knocked to the deck this winter more than anybody except John Glenn, but "my defensive hog," as Thompson calls him, keeps climbing out of the muck and snorting back into the fray.
One forlorn figure in all of this seems to be Brown, the man whose career has been plagued by the pass, that fatal miscue that handed the '82 NCAA championship game to North Carolina. Brown has retained a rep around the league as the team's leading cheap-shot artist (a stiff competition, indeed). "I don't recollect two years ago," Brown snapped last week to a reporter who thought his question was sympathetic. "I don't recollect last year. I've got more important responsibilities. I don't have time to recollect last night."
Mr. T and sympathy. What a combo.