What Happened to the Hoyas?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009; Page E01

Where Georgetown's season went, only John Thompson III can say. What happened to the unified, tough-minded squad that went to Hartford, Conn., less than two months ago and dumped the second-ranked team in the nation, only a coach who knows his team understands.

Because those Hoyas have officially been committed to memory, maybe never to be seen again this season.

Manhandled by a Louisville team that is more physical, a year wiser and has genuine Final Four aspirations, Georgetown fell for the ninth time in the past 11 games.

As miscellaneous facts go, it's got to be hard for the Hoyas to digest this one: Since the Obama administration began, their two wins have come against Rutgers and South Florida.

Thompson said his kids "need to remember they're the same group" who did all those wonderful things against Connecticut and Memphis what seems like years ago now. But that's a hard sell to the people who filed out of Verizon Center in the final minute of an utterly deflating 76-58 loss against the sixth-ranked Cardinals.

Some turnabout, huh, a smattering of boos filling the same arena where Georgetown had not lost a game a year ago?

Much of the same Louisville team was outplayed, outsmarted and outcoached in a gripping scrum last March, on that special Saturday the Hoyas claimed their second straight Big East regular season title. Rick Pitino's all-growed-up team returned to find a bunch of kids with no confidence in their games or their shots.

DaJuan Summers was once thought to be one of the top five or 10 players in the country. At a muscled, 6 feet8, 240 pounds, his mug unshaven, he looks much older and more developed than many other Big East juniors.

But once he stopped believing in his shot, once his team started reeling, he didn't put his head down, lower his shoulder and get to the rim. He floated, farther and farther away from the basket, his game hovering somewhere out on the perimeter.

Summers, who missed seven of his eight attempts in 30 minutes of lethargic basketball against Louisville, essentially became the metaphor for a lost team the last five weeks. His passion and aggression became as elusive as a collar button, the nonchalant countenance on his face a sign of a team in need of a stimulus package as much as a win.

If he doesn't wake up before the Big East tournament begins, if the Hoyas don't pull themselves out of this five-week loss of consciousness, they are on track to become one of the biggest national disappointments of the season.

Locally, in a year when Maryland is scrambling for an improbable bid, George Washington is nowhere to be found and George Mason has to overcome unbelievable parity in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Hoyas were thought to be the one genuine hope for Greater Washington college hoopheads.

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