IT is a team that parlayed traditional American values of hard work, dedication, and selflessness into victories on the basketball court. Now Georgetown University's Hoyas have capped their successful season by winning the United States's most prestigious amateur men's basketball tourney, that held by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Georgetown's leader is not one of the starting five, it's the coach - John Thompson. He has convinced his talented players that success stems not from spectacular offense but from the difficult task of playing good defense. The concept is anathema to many collegiate teams.
Years ago Thompson played for coaches with similar philosophies. One was Arnold (Red) Auerbach, for whose Boston Celtics Thompson played two years as backup to Bill Russell, perhaps the best defender ever.
Thompson proved an astute pupil. His teams play like Auerbach's, with tenacious defense and every player filling a specific role. Like Auerbach, Thompson deftly motivates, teaches, and disciplines.
He also generates controversy by his often forceful manner and penchant for protecting players' privacy. But that last quality stems from his view that they are not athletic freaks but college students trying to mature in the glare of publicity. Thompson insists they keep up with academics and graduate.
Monday night he became the first black to coach an NCAA winner.
The previous day saw a gain in recognition for women's competition, when TV showed the enormous strides women's basketball has made. In a game of gritty defense, Southern California defeated Tennessee to win the NCAA women's basketball championship.