As that that veteran Washington enforcer who's obviously ready to take Michael Graham's place in the Georgetown lineup might say:
"There you go again!"
Just because the 1984-85 college basketball season looks as if it could be a rerun of the presidential election, more a coronation than a contest—begging your pardon, Mr. Bonzo, sir, re-coronation—this isn't to say that the rest of the nation is giving up. However, in a time of peace, prosperity, low interest rates and high interest fives, and secure with the notion that Georgetown's department of defense is still terrifying, the ticket of Patrick Ewing and John Thompson may have already ensured a landslide for the Hoyas. Thus does Oral Roberts coach Dick Acres describe the competition for the national championship: "It's Georgetown and chase."
Or is it? Let's look at history. Not since 1973, when UCLA, the FDR of college ball, was wrapping up its seventh straight title and ninth in 10 years, has an NCAA champion repeated. Let's look at the dropouts from among the Georgetown campaigners. Gone are Fred Brown and Gene Smith, last year's senior guards who dictated the Hoyas' vicious pressure out front. And Graham, last season's freshman hit man, will be hitting nothing but textbooks this time around. Why, even John Thompson III left his D.C. home and hearth—to enroll as a freshman at Princeton. Maybe The Third, who was first-team All-City in Washington last season, just wanted to talk to the media.
Moreover, let's look at the rules. The new rules. The improved rules. This year's brilliantly conceived, take-a-great-game-and-blow-it-to-smithereens-with-change-after-change rules. It's obvious that when the rulemakers sat in their rules room eating their curds and rules, they were out to halt Georgetown:
A) They expanded the NCAA tournament field from 53 to 64 teams. The more the merrier, right? The more teams, the more games, the more chances for Georgetown to lose. The Hoyas barely survived SMU 37-36 in their first tournament game last March. Think how they might swoon against Baylor.
B) They increased the number of allowable time-outs during TV games from three to four per team. Nowadays a TV game is just about every game played within 6,000 miles of Al McGuire between the hours of noon and 4 a.m. Factoring in the three automatic time-outs each half for commercials, this means we can now enjoy up to 14 time-outs in a single game. "So many, we'll need a guest speaker in the huddles," says Memphis State coach Dana Kirk. Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall could have used 28 to slow down the Georgetown hordes in the second half of last spring's NCAA semifinal rout (53-40) in Seattle.
C) They installed the 45-second clock. Well, sort of. This is yet another experiment by the NCAA, which conducts more experiments than NASA. The clock will be used in 21 conferences during the season and then abandoned entirely in the tournament. Naturally, the clock makes no sense whatsoever except as a preventive measure to keep Georgetown, which has the best spread-delay offense in the business, from delaying.