Coach John Thompson wanted to dismiss Georgetown's lopsided 91-71 loss to Detroit today with a "We won't panic" approach, but the way his team played during its second defeat in four days has to be troubling him deeply.
Everywhere he looked, he found reasons to worry: Hes team, which usually shoots well from the perimiter, once again couldn't tit an open 15-footer. His talented freshman, Sleepy Floyd, fell further into a perplexing slump. Even dependable Craig Shelton, an 80 percent free-throw shooter, fell apart at the foul line.
After starting the week ranked in the top 10 of both wire-service polls for the first time in the school's history, Georgetown now faces the probability of dropping out. Thompson. however, was more concerned about the way his team accepted the losses.
"They can't go hanging their heads," he said. "We have to be able to come out and play well the next game. Things we normally do well we aren't doing. I have to think that will straighten itself out."
Probably the first thing he will do is work on shooting. Despite a misleading 53 percent accuracy today, the Hoyas were not crisp.
Both Floyd and Steve-Martin were left unguarded in the first half, yet neither could sink wide-open attempts. Against talented opponents like Detroit, that is a sure way to fall behind for hood.
Without the threat of perimeter points. Detroit was able to use a combination zone defense that cot off Shelton's effectiveness inside. He finished with 17 points, but he didn't have a rebound in the first half and pulled in only three for the day.
Even the bad marksmanship from the field might not have been Georgetown's undoing if its free-throw shooting had been better. In the second half, when the Hoyas were trying to overcome a consistent double-figure Detroit lead, they were thwarted by a horrible showing at the foul line.
Shelton missed seven in a row early in the second hilf and wound up making three of 12 in the game. The team hit nine of 22 attempts, compared with Detroit's 25 of 32. But this was not a game in which the Hoyas could claim they were robbed by the officials. Once they fell behind, they were forced to foul repeatedly down the stretch.
"Detroit is the kind of team that likes to put the ball up," Thompson said, "so even when we were behind, I felt we were still in it. All we had to do is keep chipping away.
"But we missed our chance when we couldn't hit our foul shots. We couldn't eat into the lead."
The Titans (16-4) have an outstanding guard, Terry Duerod, and a bunch of solid supporting players. This was am important game in their bid for a postseason tournament, and they played with more intensity than the Hoyas.
They also had balanced scoring, getting at least 10 points from five players, including 22 from playmaker Wilbert McCormick and 20 from Duerod. They shot 55 percent on a fine mixture of inside and outside shots.
Detroit took control late in the first half by running off a 10-4 spurt for a 32-28 lead at intermission. The Hoyas never got closer than eight in the second half, as the Titans displayed the type of poise Thompson usually expects from his club.
"You have a game where Shelton, Martin and Floyd don't do what you would normally expect of them," he said. "Detroit had a lot to do with it. I thought they played this year.
"But I'd like to see us against them on a day when things were going more the way they usually do for us."
Curing Floyd of his shooting woes obviously will be a major priority. The freshman was hitting more than 50 percent before the week began, but he has made only six of 27 attempts the last two games.
"I tried to bring him out of it today," Thompson said. "I took him out when he was going bad, but I put him back even when some others were playing better because I didn't want to ruin his confidence.
"He has to understand that he can't let his shooting problems affect the rest of his game. With his shooter's psyche, he thinks it's a catastrophe if the ball doesbn't go into the basket."
Georgetown lost two straight games about the same time last season before running off six straight victories to gain a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.
"I certainly don't want us to take this lightly," Thompson said, "but I told the kids that as long as people get this excited about beating us, we must have a pretty respectable team."