After one of its biggest basketball victories ever, a 52-50 upset of No. 2-ranked Syracuse, Georgetown University's basketball team returned to earth yesterday.
While Coach John Thompson was out of town recruiting, his players had the day off following their victory in Manley Field House that ended the longest Division I home-court winning streak at 57 games.
The student body celebrated while the coach who guided the Hoyas to the come-from-behind win prepares to talk today to the University of Florida about a coaching opening there.
The emphasis among the players, however, was on the future, not the past.
"You can't hang onto it," said reserve Jeff Bullis. "We've got to beat Detroit Saturday. They almost beat Syracuse up there.
"It (ours) was a sweet victory. You hold onto it for a while. Memories are good, but if you live with them, you don't go forward."
Said John Duren, the team's point guard and captain: "We know it's a pretty good victory, but we have to concentrate on our last three regular-season games now. It's getting time for the NCAA tournament. Everybody's working hard to get bargaining power with the NCAA."
Georgetown has an 18-5 record and can finish in a first-place tie in the Big East Conference if Syracuse beats St. John's Saturday afternoon. The Hoyas now have won seven straight games, and a 10-game winning streak going into the postseason obviously would help impress the NCAA, which will announce its seedings and pairings on March 2.
Today's bargaining, however, will center on a meeting here between Thompson, Georgetown's coach for the past eight years, and Bill Carr, the athletic director at Florida.Carr fired basketball coach John Lotz last month and is looking for an established head coach to replace him.
Carr called Frank Rienzo, his Georgetown counterpart, last week and Rienzo granted permission for Carr to talk to Thompson about the job.
At the Georgetown Pub yesterday, the consensus was that Thomspon, whose roots are here, was using Florida's interest in him for leverage with the university administration to put more money and possibly an arena into his program.
"There's no way he's going to leave," said Lisa Klem. "He's so into Georgetown, the guys, the program, Washington and the community. It sounds threatening . . . but no way."
Said Mark Stanton, a senior English major: "He can't go to a place like Florida. Here, he offers a kid a Georgetown diploma . . . That's his trump card here. I think he'd hurt the players more than us by leaving."
Duren said that Thompson's only mention of the Florida meeting to his players was to tell them that there was a story in the newspapers about it. Duren said his coach did not indicate the extent of his interest in the job.
Thompson's players reacted to the possibility of their coach leaving Georgetown with neutrality.
"It's up to him that he does the right thing for himself," said Duren, who, along with forward Craig Shelton, have been described by Thompson as the people who have paid his mortgage the past four years.
"I want him to do what is good for him," said Bullis, a sophomore. "For all the stuff we have to put with, we'd miss him.
An unnamed friend of Thompson's was quoted this week as saying that the reason Thompson would leave is that McDonough Arena, the 4,000-seat gym on campus, is a dead end, and that he is receiving only "lip service" about a new gym or renovation of McDonough after the school built a $7.5 million intramural sports and recreation complex.
Gail Livings, a graduate student said, "It's nice to have a good basketball team but this is still an academic school and a new gym isn't necessary. Georgetown strikes the ideal balance of sports and academics as it is."
Or as Klem said about loving a winner but resenting a big-time program: "At Georgetown, you feel close to the players. You get to know them personally. The same with Thompson. You can relate to the team because the players are like you . . . they're students. It makes winning like this even more exciting."