There are so many more games to play, shots to block, passes to steal, teams to annihilate, locker rooms to secure, media people to harass and basketball standards to carry to who knows what heights. But if the Georgetown Hoyas haven't already clinched another national championship with the season barely a month old, they have done the next best thing, which is to terrify all and sundry challengers into considering the possibility that Georgetown may never be beaten again. At least not in the collegiate lifetime of Patrick Ewing.
As the Hoya destroyas ripped apart poor DePaul 77-57 last Saturday at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., cruelly turning what is possibly the second-best team in the land and most probably the best team in that school's proud history into just another withering mass of Hawaii-Hilos, this particular Georgetown of Ewing called up visions of the UCLAs of Alcindor and Walton, the San Francisco of Russell, the greatness and invincibility of any other record book champions you care to name.
Only this 1984-85 Hoya team—these bombers of the Beltway, from Ewing to some mystery-guest new guy named Perry McDonald—may be better than all of them. We're talking history, folks.
"Are they better than last year?" DePaul coach Joey Meyer said after his team had shot only 32.7% from the floor. Meyer was shaking his head, obviously attempting to recover from a severe case of shell shock. "We beat Georgetown last year and we're supposed to be better. Figure that out. Now I don't even know who's number two."
December 24, 1984
As if it matters. The way coach John Thompson's rampaging hordes controlled this alleged showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the polls bordered on the surreal—and so did Thompson's assessment following the extermination. "I'm just trying to work out the kinks, trying to reach a comfort level," he said. Kinks? Comfort? What is this man asking for, Little Bighorn?
Right off, Georgetown doubled DePaul's score, thundering to an 18-point lead (36-18) in the first 15 minutes. Then the Hoyas held the game out like a carrot on a stick for DePaul to swipe at while Ewing sat out the rest of the half. The Demons kept right on scratching when he returned, eating away all but one point—50-49—with 12:25 left. Ultimately, the home team scored 18 straight points and 24 of the game's final 30 to make it a blowout.
Tragic to tell, that wasn't St. Leo's that missed 19 of its 23 shots in the second half. That was previously undefeated (6-0) DePaul. That wasn't Southern Connecticut that didn't score a single bucket in the final 13:06 of the "contest." Those were esteemed Blue Demon heroes such as co-Captain Tyrone Corbin and emerging sophomore star Dallas Comegys, whose tip-in last Dec. 10, by the way, was the key basket in DePaul's 63-61 upset of Georgetown on the Demons' home court. On Saturday, Corbin scored 13 points in the first half, and DePaul took more shots and collected more rebounds than Georgetown, only to trail 45-38 at the intermission. But Corbin scored zero in the second half. As for Comegys, this time life imitated the soaps as Ewing did in Dallas; Comegys scored seven points altogether and was also shut out after halftime.
Georgetown's familiar cast of veterans provided solid numbers and spectacular plays. Ewing, for example, had 15 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks, and once leaped for a defensive rebound, twisted in midair and fired a pass three-quarters the length of the court to Horace Broadnax for an easy breakaway layup. Junior guard Michael Jackson, without any help from Jermaine or Tito or even Don King, had 14 points, 12 assists and at least once screamed in Ewing's face to "roll to the basket!" Sophomore swingman Reggie Williams had 14 points, gliding and pumping in a manner reminiscent of his performance in the 1984 NCAA title game against Houston.
Then there were the new faces. Ronnie Highsmith, the 23-year-old ex-Army sergeant, made one incredible hook rebound banker in an otherwise AWOL cameo appearance. But what in the name of machismo were freshmen Grady Mateen and Perry McDonald doing with this bunch? Well, Mateen, Ewing's 6'10" erstwhile caddie, accomplished some snakelike boardwork for six rebounds and may be versatile enough to assume the exiled Michael Graham's place at power forward (if Grady shaves his head). And all McDonald did was serve as the catalyst who helped Ewing shift control of the game back to Georgetown in the middle of the second half with three baskets and three steals. Don't be troubled if you don't recognize the name, because you're not alone.
Postgame interviewer: "McDonald really juiced things up, didn't he?"
"Which one is he?"
Clearly, McDonald is either too quick or too new, or both, for even his own teammates to recognize him. Oh, and don't think that there's anything wimpish about the 6'4", 190-pounder just because of his name. Perry, from New Orleans, is a former defensive end and Golden Gloves boxer.
It is fairly obvious how Thompson, the supreme motivator, has gone about banishing any complacency that might deflect them from their appointed routs. In his view, they aren't the defending champions at all but an entirely different team. The Georgetown media guide, for instance, barely mentions the '84 NCAA title. When the National Association of Basketball Coaches asked the school for a photograph of the championship team for its publication, it received a shot of this year's squad instead.
As many of these No. 1 vs. No. 2 poll bowls as there have been over the years, one would have thought that either Georgetown or DePaul must have been involved in at least one of them before Saturday. But no. Also, there has been a kind of era gap between the two schools' separate but mutual adventures to prominence. Georgetown was practically born yesterday—or on Nov. 27, 1972, the day Thompson began conducting Hoya operations wearing that towel over his shoulder, headwaiter-style—while DePaul's success dates from the Ice Age. As Ray Meyer, America's only 2,000-year-old radio color man, says, "When I started coaching, they didn't even have polls." He was talking about the days of George Mikan, when they hardly had electricity, either.
"At some point a team recognizes its own abilities," DePaul point guard Kenny Patterson had said bravely before meeting the Hoyas. "Everyone calls Georgetown awesome and unbeatable, but when we beat them last year we proved to ourselves we were on the same level."
When DePaul's half-court trap defense, led by Patterson, confused Georgetown early in the second half, the visitors seemed on equal ground again. DePaul had fought back from its disastrous beginning and had shaken the effects of a referee's terrible non-call with 17:34 left, when Ewing dove at Corbin's 10-foot shot and knocked Tyrone flat. The foul would have been Ewing's third. DePaul center Marty Embry hit a short jumper to cut the Georgetown lead to 50-47 at 13:07, but little did anyone suspect that that would be DePaul's final basket.
Free throws brought the Demons to 50-49 with possession of the ball, but reserve guard Andy Laux missed a long jumper for the lead. Moments later, with DePaul behind 53-51, Corbin missed another jumper for the tie. Still, DePaul controlled, but this time Comegys, backing in, had the ball slapped away by—introducing, da-dah—Georgetown's McDonald. It may have been the most important turnover of the game. "I would have loved to see us one up, or Ewing with three fouls. It might have been interesting," Meyer said.
"It wouldn't have made any difference," said Hoya forward Bill Martin. "They're gutsy but they were tired. Their passes were getting lazy. We would have been even more intense from behind. If we're down, a light goes on and something extra happens."
In a struggle for their souls now, the Hoyas immediately started going to Ewing, whose lights were all on. In the first 26 minutes he had two baskets. Now the imposing 7-foot Olympian scored 11 points in 12-plus minutes—unveiling a couple of brand-new jump skyhooks, and smashing some vicious, leonine dunks—while the rookie McDonald was stripping clean the exhausted DePaul backcourt as Georgetown's relentless defenders simply turned up the tempo.
Like an electrocution, it was over so very quickly. From 53-51, Georgetown scored those 18 straight points in 6:23. "I was in shock," admitted the beleaguered Patterson. "I didn't think the score could shoot up that fast, or that they could handle us like that."
It could and they did. So what are the effects on the best team when it beats the next best by 20? How does Georgetown fight cockiness now? "Coach will think of a way," Martin said. "He may make us practice eight hours on Christmas."
At least that way the Hoyas will get a game.