Practice sessions this fall at Georgetown's McDonough Arena were so incredibly quiet that a rumor circulated briefly among the Jesuits on campus that the Hoyas had taken vows of silence. Even when the team warmed up with an exercise in which each player got to drill his teammates in the gut with an 11½-pound medicine ball, there wasn't a peep. The Hoyas walk softly and carry a big coach—6'11", 300-pound John Thompson (page 88)—but before the season is done they'll probably make a very loud noise in the East.
Last year Georgetown got to the finals of the East Regional, losing to Iowa 81-80 after leading by 14 points. Three starters from that team have graduated, most notably Guard John Duren and Forward Craig Shelton, who took 29.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and more than eight assists a game with them. Although Thompson has quality replacements, he is justifiably concerned by his team's lack of experience. "We won a lot of games at the end of last year because we were a very stubborn team," says Thompson. "We have to reestablish some of those chemical compounds as well as some of our skills. We have versatility among our players, but the level of competence remains to be seen."
The only thing that remains to be seen about 6'3" junior Guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd is how much better he can become before he has to have his eyelids placed in traction. Floyd scored 18.7 points a game as a sophomore and hit 55.4% of the jumpers that he generally launched from the vicinity of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Thompson used to flinch at Sleepy's sloppy shot selection (which was better than trying to pronounce it), but that was before he realized Floyd's range. "He probably didn't know the extent of my capabilities," says Sleepy. "I'm not into personal accomplishments, but I really think there's going to be a game where I don't miss a shot." Floyd also led the Hoyas last year in steals (73) and—here's an eye-opener—blocked shots (14).
Getting the ball into Sleepy's hands will be the responsibility of 6'5" freshman Point Guard "Georgetown" Freddie Brown, late of the Bronx, who won't shoot much but can deliver the ball through a crowd. "He's a tremendous passer," says Thompson, "a dream for anybody who moves without the ball."
Thompson hopes to do away with the three-headed center system he employed last season, rotating 7-footer Mike Frazier with 6'7" Mike Hancock and 6'9" Ed Spriggs in the pivot. Spriggs, the former mailman who shot 66.0% in '79-80, will start, with Frazier (67.1%) backing him up. Hancock will move to forward, where he will share time with juniors Jeff Bullis and defensive stalwart Eric Smith. Those three averaged only 14.1 points among them last season, and if the Hoyas expect to provide Floyd with adequate operating room, one of the forwards will have to share some of the offensive load. If that happens, watch Georgetown go boom!
Though the two men are far removed from one another in age and profession, the similarities between them have gone unnoticed long enough. It's not just that they look so much alike, it's their immensely energetic personalities that make Dale Brown and Gene Kelly dead ringers.
The Gene Kelly who was in An American in Paris? What's he got to do with the LSU basketball coach? Well, there are several parallels. Brown has been an American in Paris, too. Besides coaching the Tigers, he spends almost every summer in Europe working with some of the 40-odd international teams who seek his expertise. Kelly is a fitness nut who did most of his own movie stunts. Brown runs nearly every day and says he feels best after his periodic Thursday-to-Sunday fasts. Kelly is a creative genius who could dance a smash number with an umbrella or with Jerry, the cartoon-character mouse. Brown has improved his players' free-throw percentages by asking them to lie down in a darkened room and imagine their shots swishing through the net 200 times in a row. And like Kelly, Brown has a winning way about him. Two seasons ago LSU won the SEC title and last spring it upset Kentucky in the championship game of the league tournament. LSU's record has improved every season for the past five.