Georgetown-North Carolina a fitting NCAA title matchup
(Page 2 of 2)
Most observers regard Pat Ewing, who seriously considered going to North Carolina, as the player most responsible for Georgetown's present position. Thompson, who coached Ewing at last summer's National Sports Festival, has taken great care to bring along the seven-footer gradually, both on and off the court. Many writers have criticized the way the coach shelters his prize freshman, and the whole team for that matter, withholding players from interviews and housing them far from game sites. Georgetown has stayed in Biloxi, Miss., for games here , a location John says provides peace of mind.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Thompson, of course, knows that Ewing could make Georgetown what coach Lefty Driesell always wanted Maryland to be, the UCLA of the East. He is a franchise type of player, not just because of his size, but what he does with it -- blocking shots, slamming dunks, and generally playing as physically as any man his size has ever done.
That Louisville's Cardinals held him to eight points in Saturday's semifinal game was not particularly unusual, since Ewing often draws extra attention. The way they did it was, for he never managed any rim-shakin', earthquakin' dunks, and he even had two shots rejected. But although he wasn't much of a factor offensively, his defensive reputation obviously proceeded him, for the Cardinals never loosened up and shot a dismal 39 percent from the field -- this in a 50-46 contest that may go down as one of the most ferocious defensive games ever played.
Before Saturday's semifinals, there was much discussion about what effect playing in the cavernous Superdome, and before an NCAA record 61,000 spectators, would have on shooting. Houston guard Lynden Rose felt the unusually spacious surroundings would have little impact, noting that ''The court's the same. The goals aren't going to move.''
Certainly North Carolina found that to be the case in hitting nearly 60 percent of its shots to elimiate the Cougars 68-63. Houston didn't fare nearly so well, playing a game that defied logic. For example, team scoring leader Rob Williams, a guard with a splendid shooting touch, attempted just eight shots and made none of them. This mysterious development coupled with the Cougars' inability to get untracked (they fell behind 14-0, came back to tie it at 29, but then went cold again to begin the second half) was enough to set up the North Carolina-Georgetown showdown.
The feeling persists that Smith has waited long enough to reach the winner's circle. He's guided North Carolina to the championship game three other times, including last year, and always come up empty -- leaving the Tar Heels still looking for their first NCAA crown since the famous triple overtime victory over Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas team in 1957.
The challenge now is to find a way to beat a team that seems to thrive on an us-against-the-world atmosphere. It's easy to imagine Georgetown getting what it likes: a chance to play the role of a not-so-lovable spoiler. Thompson has never coached in an NCAA title game, but he knows firsthand what Smith teams tend to do in every situation.
Basically it boils down to strength against strength, which means the ''men at work'' sign will go up under the baskets as Ewing tangles with Carolina's twin 6-9 towers, Worthy and Sam Perkins. It's just the kind of cymbal crash the season should end on.