The Hoyas' Splendid Identity Crisis

By Mike Wise
Saturday, March 31, 2007

ATLANTA If you had to come up with a slogan for each school this weekend, they might break down accordingly -- Florida: " We're Ba-a-a-a-ck." UCLA: "We're Back, Too, With a Vengeance." Ohio State: "We've Got Greg Oden and You Don't."

And, of course, Georgetown: "Uh, Our Dads Were Really Good."

Having improbably made their way to the Final Four, the Hoyas' present almost is dwarfed by their past. Hours before the university's biggest basketball game in 22 years, Georgetown is viewed nationally as the most image-less team left in the NCAA tournament -- a virtual 12-man identity crisis.

We know their bloodlines, but no one beyond Greater Washington seems to care about their plot lines.

The Gators are Joakim Noah's ponytail flapping downcourt like a spoiler on a souped-up Ferrari. The Buckeyes are the strength of Oden and the swiftness of Mike Conley Jr. The Bruins don't have much of a theme to bank on, either. But at least they have their Velcro defense and the tradition of the most decorated program in college basketball history.

Georgetown is what, exactly?

"We're just a bunch of unselfish guys out there having fun and getting the job done," Patrick Ewing Jr. said.

He's right. Beyond their famous fathers, the Hoyas, who drew far less attention than any other Final Four team during media day at the Georgia Dome on Friday, are that selfless team whose sole intention is to win a national title. Their coach isn't a self-promoter rumored to be taking another job. They don't have a statistically dominant player. And most of their players -- engaging and personable privately -- have been encouraged and coached to be guarded publicly. Georgetown easily is the least sexy team in the Final Four.

Which makes the Hoyas the best story. Their act is that they don't have one. They are what they are, a compilation of some very good players who worked, grew and got better over time.

Jeff Green, who averages 14 points per game, is not among the country's top 50 scorers or rebounders. A smattering of reporters attended his and Jonathan Wallace's news conference Friday. Noah and Oden drew double the crowd. You would have no idea Green was one of the best five players in college basketball, a guy whose ability to harness his talents into a more constrictive system actually broadened his playmaking skills.

Roy Hibbert is a central figure as it relates to his matchup in the middle with Oden. But the 7-foot-2 junior center is the late bloomer, the kid who went from gawky to very good, standing next to the first or second pick in the NBA draft.

The Hoyas' style of play is predicated on an old-fangled concept of actually involving five people in the offense.

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