Can there still be critics out there carping that Patrick Ewing and his pals on the Georgetown basketball team aren't learned in the humanities? Why, Georgetown will take its humanity along with its depth, speed, versatility, crash-dunks and NCAA record-breaking defense and shove it right down your windpipe, as it has so many times this season and as it did last week while mopping up in the Big East tournament.
Indeed, there was a minor skirmish in the Hoyas' 82-71 overtime defeat of Syracuse in Saturday night's championship game in Madison Square Garden, when one of the school's future diplomats tried to punch the lights out of an already falling Orangeman. But such tactics are old hat with Georgetown—hit 'em while they're down, hard-er, hard-er—and, anyway, picky-picky. By the time the dust had settled, coach John Thompson's plundering legions—Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Twelve is one of their milder aliases—had concluded a fairly thorough rap number on their conference brethren.
Not that the hammerin' Hoyas surprised anybody by becoming the first top-seeded regular-season champions in the Big East's five-year history to sweep to the tournament championship as well. They reached the final by beating Providence 70-50 and St. John's 79-68, while shooting a remarkable 73% from the field over three of the four halfs of those games and hardly breaking a sweat through those snappy gray undershirts.
On Saturday night, however, the sport's newest magician, Syracuse guard Dwayne (Pearl) Washington, lit up the Garden with 27 points and six assists, shaked and baked and made the Hoyas quake before Ewing and Michael Jackson (no, not the guy with the Grammys and the silver glove) combined for 47 points (15 in the overtime) to, ho ho, put out the flames. For the tournament, the 7-foot Ewing made 25 of 32 shots from the floor and scored 69 points to go with 28 rebounds and 13 blocks. In view of his consistently notable numbers and the persistent foul trouble experienced in big games by Houston's Akeem Abdul Olajuwon, it's now clear that Ewing is much more than Face Job East. He's the most dominating player in college, and the Hoyas may be the club to beat as the 53-team NCAA championship tournament begins this week.
Certainly Georgetown gives every appearance of being ready. In New York the Hoyas' MO was that familiar mix of public non-relations, suspicion and silly security precautions—now known as Hoya Paranoia—and intense play. When the Hoyas filed into the pretournament luncheon, last to arrive as usual, one Big East player remarked, "I think big John blindfolds them all on the airplane so they never know what's going on. I always wonder whether the Hoyas know where they really are."
Truth be told, however, the 6'10", 300-plus-pound Thompson in effect really let out his belt for this one.
Item 1. According to Zachary Smith, the school's sports information director for basketball, the Georgetown coach lodged his team "in Harlem," a long cab drive uptown from the Garden but closer than, say, Montreal. Smith laughed when he said "Harlem," but he's a rookie on the job. He'll learn this is serious business. Was Smith perjuring himself? What did he know and when did he know it? Where was the smoking gun? Where is John Sirica when we need him? The investigation is proceeding.
Item 2. Ewing didn't draw or quarter or even elbow a single poor soul into the emergency ward at Bellevue. (O.K., maybe there was a tiny forearm shiver here and there and the obligatory bad-dude woofing and staring, but children will be children.) Rather, Ewing was observed actually kibitzing with an opponent during pregame warmups.
Item 3. After Georgetown's assistant coach, academic coordinator and bodyguard queen Mary Fenlon, all velvet and lace and everything in place, got through sweeping the Hoya locker room for listening devices and cluster bombs planted by the wretches of the Fourth Estate, the Hoya staff felt secure enough to allow its minions to communicate some thoughts to the outside world. On...pick a subject, anything that comes to mind. O.K., how about intimidation?
Jackson: "We prefer to call it playing hard. Sure, it makes you feel proud if somebody says they're scared of you. But we only take that so far. The rest is press talk."