There should be no debate about it, no bogus excuses about scheduling issues or grudges that go back 30-plus years.
Just shut up and play.
Does winning a game against a cross-town rival save a coach’s job if his team isn’t consistently playing in the NCAA tournament? No. Does a loss cost a coach his job if his team is consistently making the field of 68? Of course not. But beating such an opponent has meaning.
So who is wrong right now?
Everyone. To paraphrase Mercutio: A plague on both their houses.
Whoever told Kevin Anderson that publicly calling out Georgetown and saying that Maryland won’t play in the sandbox with the Hoyas at all until the men’s basketball teams start playing each other should have his or her head examined. No one responds well to bullying.
That said, most of the responsibility for the lengthy gaps between Maryland-Georgetown games lies with Georgetown.
It actually dates from a game played in December 1979 at the D.C. Armory. During a tense, well-played contest, emotions between Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. and Maryland coach Lefty Driesell spilled over and Thompson screamed a profanity at Driesell. Furious, Driesell refused to shake hands after the Hoyas won.
As luck would have it, the teams played again that season in a Sweet 16 game in Philadelphia. During a news conference that week, Thompson apologized to Driesell for what he had said. That led to one of Driesell’s all-time classic lines. Asked if he accepted Thompson’s apology, Driesell said: “ ’Course I do. Everyone knows to err is human, to forgive divine and I’m divine.”
His team wasn’t quite as divine in the game a couple of nights later. Georgetown won again.
The Hoyas ruled the town for most of the 1980s. Led by Patrick Ewing, they won a national title, went to three Final Fours in four years and reached the Elite Eight six times in 10 years. Maryland never went past the Sweet 16 and fell on hard times after Len Bias’s death and Driesell’s forced departure. It wasn’t until Joe Smith and Keith Booth arrived in the fall of 1993 that the Terrapins became a factor again.
During that time, Georgetown stopped playing just about every local team. Thompson, who has a long memory, never forgot DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten not scheduling Thompson’s St. Anthony’s teams in the 1970s and Driesell not being terribly eager to play Georgetown when the Hoyas first began to play well. Once he wielded the hammer, he stopped playing all locals, including George Washington, which for many years was Georgetown’s biggest rival.
American, coached by Ed Tapscott, upset the fifth-ranked Hoyas in December 1982 and almost beat them again four years later. After that game, Thompson told Tapscott in a Capital Centre hallway, “That’s the last time we’re playing.”
Power-conference coaches never want to play local rivals from non-power leagues. Gary Williams hated playing GW in the BB&T Classic because he knew how important the game was to the Colonials and that if his team lost, his fans would be asking him constantly, “How could you lose to them?”