Mike Frazier, Georgetown's 7-foot reserve basketball center, is not in the team picture that adorns the Hoya yearbook and game program. Coach John Thompson wouldn't let him pose.
"At the beginning of the season, I felt Michael was my biggest disappointment," Thompson said. "I told him . . . the team picture was for athletes and he didn't look like an athlete, being overweight."
Now, on the brink of Georgetown's opening game in the NCAA basketball tournament, Thompson says of Frazier: "I can't . . . say enough nice things about Mike Frazier."
This is but one example of why Thompson described the month of February as being one of "indescribably delicious" basketball for his Hoyas. For those coaches more inclined to the cliche, this Georgetown team -- winner of 13 straight games and ranked 10th and 11th nationally -- possesses "the right chemistry."
It was not always that way for the 1979-80 Hoyas. In mid-January, the team was 11-5, players were injured and basketball fans could sense that chemistry was missing. The NIT seemed more likely than the NCAA.
No one had stepped forward to fill the shoes of the departed Steve Martin at small forward or to play like Mike Riley, the defensive flea of previous Hoya teams -- the type of complementary players who usually make Georgetown more successful than the sum of its individual talent.
The Hoyas had just beaten U.S. International, the first victim in the current streak. American University was next. Thompson dug out a film of the 1979 AU game. He showed his team five plays from that game. On four of them, Martin hustled from the perimeter to get inside position on the offensive board.
When Thompson speaks of "Georgetown basketball," this is what he means. When Thompson says his team is playing "indescribably delicious," he means they are playing the way he wants them to.
"It's not a statistical thing as much as the satisfaction a coach gets," Thompson said. "They're a nice bunch of kids, but a tough bunch to coach. I've been very hard and very sarcastic. I knew it was there; I had to get it out of them."
Craig Shelton, John Duren, Eric (Sleepy) Floyd -- the stars -- had been playing hard at both ends of the court. But the word on the Hoyas, starting after their upset loss to Boston College in the semifinals of the ECAC Holiday Festival, was that this was a three-man team. Depth? Are you kidding?
But that depth now is showing, 10 strong, sometimes 11, so that this team, which had been primarily zone-defense oriented, now is playing pressure man-to-man defenses, the very essence of what almost every NCAA champion has used as its primary defense.
"I appealed to their pride and they responded. I talked about kids who had been around here, who had given themselves so we could be good. I told the kids I was very disappointed in the fact that little bit of feeling wasn't there," Thompson said.
"It's not something you can put your finger on. It's a Terry Fenlon, a shooter, who starts to talk about defense. It's a Mike Frazier, all of a sudden, realizing 'I don't have the luxury of deciding whether I want to play or not'. It's a Michael Hancock getting out there knowing that when Ed Springs and Frazier decide to play, he's not going to be the center just by physical attributes alone.
"It's that kind of thing.I just felt those little intangibles were not there."
He showed the film of Martin against AU.
"I asked them, 'Where in the world is this?" Knowing the fact those kids did have the pride, you appeal to it. I've been very harsh. I've been very sarcastic, as I can be, and very cutting, as I can be, and probably one of the reasons I like closed practice is that the intent is not to publicly humiliate the kids.
"But they responded to it. That's not something I gave them. I knew it was there. I had to try and get it out of them. They responded, and it's there now. There's no way to beat a Boston College being down the way we were down if they don't start to develop it, if it wasn't coming then . . . It's there now."
The transformation also corresponded with a more aggressive attitude from his six seniors, especially Fenlon and Lonnie Duren, John's older brother, whose career has been hampered by injuries. "Tradition is passed on by players, not coaches," Thompson said. "The seniors were too invisible at one time."
For instance, for Lonnie Duren, it now is a pregame ritual to yell, as the team re-enters the locker room after pregame warmups, "Forty hard minutes, 40 hard minutes."
When the Hoyas play Iowa Sunday afternoon, they will start a lineup that contains some strange chemistry.
Senior Al Dutch, displaying more intensity than in any of his three previous Hilltop seasons, starts at small forward ahead of ailing Eric Smith, a sophomore, the team's best defensive forward, who held Syracuse's Louis Orr shotless for a half last week and helped him to commit nine turnovers.
Thompson says the Hoyas are "stronger" with Smith, who injured an ankle in practice Thursday, coming off the bench because he also can play point guard, thus being fresh if Duren gets in foul trouble or Thompson wants to rest him.
And why does Spriggs, the Hoyas' best center, come in as the third pivotman?
"Well," Thompson said, "Hancock's my good-luck charm.