Ninety minutes after Georgetown University had lost its first basketball game of the season, the Hoyas and their coaching staff sat in the coffee shop at the MGM Grand Hotel looking like anything but losers.
"It was a positive experience," Coach John Thompson said of Thursday night's 87-77 loss to host NevadaReno in the final of the Wolf Pack Invitational tournament.
As the Hoya entourage took its chances at keno, Thompson said what he had refused to say while Georgetown was posting seven straight victories, equaling the Hoya's best start ever and getting ranked 14th in both wire-service polls.
"I told the kids I had some doubts about their ability as a team," Thompson said. "Not that I didn't think we were good. But I wasn't certain. Now I know for sure they are a good team. They kept on gutting.
"There are certain things you find out about a team in defeat. You hope it (losing) doesn't happen too regularly."
Georgetown was a victim of Mike (Fly) Gray's 34 points and what Thompson felt was inconsistent officiating. The Hoyas allowed NevadaReno to play its normal physical game, but referees Ben Polk and Fred Goreham seemed to call fouls closer at the other end of the court.
Thompson would not comment on the officiating other than to acknowledge, "Yes, I expected it. Your learn to accept it."
Forward Craig Shelton, Georgetown's dominant inside player, collected three fouls in the opening 61/2 minutes. Eric Floyd, the freshman guard who leads the team in scoring, was so flustered by events Thompson had to bench him near the end of the first half.
Each had only one basket in the half, which ended with Georgetown point guard John Duren also on the bench with three fouls and the Hoyas down, 38-25.
At the start of the second half, Reno continued to build its lead, reaching its biggest margin, 53-32, with 14:36 to play.
Reno is 7-1 with three players - center Edgar Jones, Gray and guard Johnny (Sky) High - who make the Pack a fast-moving outfit.
Jones scored 24 points, playing the final 12 1/2 minutes with four fouls.
"It was a good experience for the freshmen," said team captain Steve Martin, whose play the two nights of the tournament here impressed the pro scouts.
"They dug in at the end," Martin continued. "Any average ballplayer would have quit. They kept hustling. You have to appreciate that."
Floyd was a good example. He straightened out his game in the second half, played good defense, too, and finished with 16 points.
"That's part of the learning experience," Thompson said. "You can talk all you want about playing on the road, but you have to experience it. We won't play in any tougher atmospher all season. It will help get us ready for Penn and Holy Cross."
Those are two of Georgetown's upcoming road games after the Hoyas complete a seven-game home stand that begins Wednesday night against Southern University.
Despite his foul problems, Shelton finished with 19 points and six rebounds in just 25 minutes Thursday night and coupled with his 20-point, nine-rebound evening in the 49-42 victory over Fresno State, earned a place on the all-tournament team.
Joining him were Reno's Gray, Jones and High and James (Turk) Tillman of Washington, D.C. Tillman scored 36 points in Eastern Kentucky's 84-78 consolation victory over Fresno.
Tillman, former Eastern High star and transfer from Maryland, set a tournament record with 65 points in the two games and shared MVP honors with Jones since they were the only players named on every alltournament team ballot.