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Entering Finale, Georgetown Looks Veterans' Way

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2005; Page D03

Darrel Owens, Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook are usually in the midst of whatever is happening on the court for Georgetown, which is why it was not easy for the three veterans to sit on the bench and watch the final 15 minutes of the Hoyas' 83-64 loss to 15th-ranked Connecticut on Wednesday. But it was not meant to be easy; Coach John Thompson III had a very definite message he wanted to get across to Georgetown's three most experienced players.

"Coach Thompson emphasized to us after the game that in order for us to be successful, Ashanti, Brandon and I have to play well," Owens said yesterday. "He definitely made a statement, and it begins with practice."

Georgetown's Brandon Bowman, above, combined with Ashanti Cook and Darrel Owens for just 13 points and lacked intensity in Wednesday's loss to Connecticut. (Reuters)

_____Hoyas Finding Their Place_____

Georgetown's seed for the Big East tournament will be determined by the outcome of today's games.

Georgetown will be seeded sixth and play the 11th seed if:

It beats Providence and Notre Dame beats Pittsburgh.

Georgetown will be seeded seventh and play the 10th seed if:

It beats Providence and Pittsburgh wins at Notre Dame or

It loses to Providence and West Virginia loses at Seton Hall.

Georgetown will be seeded eighth and play ninth-seeded Providence if:

It loses to Providence and West Virginia beats Seton Hall.

And it most definitely continues tonight, when Georgetown hosts Providence in the regular season finale, a game it must win if it wants to remain in the mix for an at-large NCAA tournament berth.

The Hoyas cannot afford to have Owens, Bowman and Cook play like they did on Wednesday, when they combined for just 13 points and lacked intensity.

"We'll see" how the three players respond, Thompson said. "Obviously, it's an important game. It's a big game for those guys in particular, those guys who were close to something that they want to accomplish."

That Georgetown (16-10, 8-7) still has a chance at an NCAA tournament berth, despite losing its past four games, is somewhat remarkable. But by winning 16 of their first 22 games, including victories at No. 24 Pittsburgh and at No. 19 Villanova, the Hoyas not only put themselves in position for their first NCAA at-large bid since 2001, they built in some breathing room. Of the Hoyas' past four losses, three came on the road, and three came against NCAA tournament-caliber teams.

"Preferably, we would not be just in the mix, we'd be over the hump by now," Thompson said. "But we're not. So we have [today's] game and the Big East tournament, and we still could come out of this thing okay, but it's going to be difficult."

Georgetown is guaranteed to play in one of three first-round games when the Big East tournament begins Wednesday. The Hoyas, who likely have to win at least one game at Madison Square Garden for NCAA consideration, will be the sixth, seventh or eighth seed. Regardless of where they are seeded, the Hoyas will play one of the bottom three teams: Seton Hall (11-14, 3-12), Providence (13-16, 3-12) or Rutgers (9-16, 2-13). St. John's (9-17, 3-12) will not participate in the tournament because of a self-imposed ban.

The Friars are far more dangerous than their 3-12 Big East record would indicate. In 10 of their 12 losses, they were within four points of their opponent entering the final 1 minute 50 seconds. Providence also has one of the league's best players in forward Ryan Gomes, who is tops in scoring (21.5 points) and third in rebounding (8.3).

"We're not hanging our heads," Owens said. "We know what chances we have, and we know the type of team we have."

Hoyas Notes: Owens and RaMell Ross, the Hoyas' only seniors, will be honored before the game. Owens, who was ineligible to play his freshman year, said that he will graduate in May with a degree in sociology but would like to return for a fifth season. Ross's star-crossed career will end this year. The former Lake Braddock standout lost two seasons to injuries, and earlier this year, his mother, Giselle, passed away.

"He is an inspiration to our guys with how he goes about his business," Thompson said of Ross. "He's been very important, especially to our team this year."

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