"They say he can dominate a game," said Georgetown forward Eric Smith about Albert King. "So you can't let him get the ball, can you? Al can't dominate a game if he doesn't have the ball."
Smith is Georgetown's best defensive forward, a man who cherishes stopping someone else more than scoring himself. With Smith on him in the second half, All-American King scored only two of his 15 points.
"I was just fronting him, just trying to not let him get the ball," Smith said after Georgetown's 74-68 victory.
"In most games," Smith added, "I look to help out on the weak side. This time I just stayed with him."
For those who follow Georgetown, tonight's defensive effort was nothing new for the 6-foot-5 sophomore from Churchill High. In the Big East championship game against Syracuse two weeks ago, star forward Louis Orr got no shots off Smith and committed five turnovers in the first half.
Tonight, King scored many of his 13 first-half points against Georgetown's zone. Smith said it is impossible to contain King with a zone.
"How can you score if somebody's on you?" Smith said. "You've got to play him man-to-man. When he gets the ball, he can do a lot of things with it."
So Smith's objective was to keep King from touching the ball inside and make him go outside where Smith got help on the drive.
"It was a challenge," said Smith, who also scored 13 points. "I had to stop him because I knew they'd be coming to him in the second half."
Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, the Georgetown guard who scored 18 points and made two big steals toward the end, explained the defense a little more technically.
"We tried to beat Albert to the spot. He was coming through the middle, getting it down low in the first half. So we got there first in the second half."
Said a solemn King: "It wasn't nothing new. Teams do it to us all the time. Some do it to us all the time. Some of the shots we got, we didn't make. If they drop we're okay."
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell did not see it that way.
"We didn't have enough offensive control to get him the ball," Maryland had 27 turnovers.
That and Craig Shelton's fourth foul were the keys to the game as far as the Maryland coach was concerned.
"When Shelton went out on fouls, they got a spark and we sort of relaxed," Driesell said.
Shelton picked up two fouls during the first possession of the second half, giving him four for the night.
Before he went to the bench, Shelton gathered the Hoyas on the floor around him and said:
"When I'm gone, go out and do it. Do what we have to do."
It was a nice little pep talk, said Mike Frazier, the 7-foot center.
"We were really fired up after that and when Craig came back (with 6:02 to play) it just fired us up more."
Smith explained there was no panic among the players because Shelton had sat down.
"We never think of it as a crisis or something," Smith said. "We knew we could still play with them. We've played without Craig before (he played only 11 minutes in a regular-season victory over Iona). (Mike) Hancock did a good job for him. He played good defense."
"We had to keep our concentration and not get caught up in the emotion with the crowd," Floyd said. He (Coach John Thompson) just wanted us to play a good head game. When a key player like Craig goes out, you have to concentrate more on defense and rebounding.
"You have to compensate for him not being in there. I think we did a pretty good job doing that."
There were smiles coming off the Spectrum floor, but not big emotions.
"We want to go as far as we can," said Frazier. "We have a couple more to go, so we didn't look at this as Maryland per se."
Now that they have definitely proved themselves as champions of the Washington area, Floyd says proving it nationally is next.
"We're not going to prove ourselves until we get to the national championship. I'm not satisfied yet, and I won't be satisfied until we win the national championship."
A reporter asked team manager Scott Wolf if the team had shown any emotion in the locker room before it was open to the media.
"No," Wolf replied. "Why? Did you expect any?"