By midafternoon Sunday, Georgetown is going to the NCAA East Regional champion. One reason is that Iowa's best player is a basketball cripple. A better one is that Georgetown suddenly has unfettered a player unique to his sport, a 20-foot, 4-inch center-forward.
This player is more special even that the Washington State phenom of whom his coach, George Raceling, said: "He was born June 6, 7 and 8." Georgetown's has three birthdays -- and three names: Mike Hancock, Ed Spriggs and Mike Frazier.
"My trinity," Hoya Coach John Thompson says.
Until lately, this Hancock-Spriggs-Frazier fellow was limited to one position -- center. More than anything, he emphasizes why teams win important games. He is undisputed testimony to support the Theory of the Strongest Weak Link.
Well, with the exception of legends who have taken the intrigue out of sport -- UCLA in basketball, the Steelers in pro football, the Yankees in base ball -- no teams have an equal distribution of talent.
The basketball gods blessed the Craig Sheltons and Albert Kings more than they did the Reggie Jacksons and Eric Smiths. Which is why three good Hoya players must meld into one excellent player.
It is also why Georgetown is playing Iowa Sunday instead of Maryland. Smart teams realize they are doomed if they fail to hobble the opposition's star player. Both Shelton and King were taken out of Friday's collision.
Shelton had more help.
While King was being denied the ball much of the game -- and going six of 18 when he got it -- and Shelton was on the bench in foul trouble most of the second half, every Hoya supporting player was exquisite and 40 percent of the Terp starters were dreadful.
Ernie Graham and Reggie Jackson each had one more turnover than points. In 50 minutes at center and forward, Hancock-Spriggs-Frazier was seven for 11 from the field and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Except under the most extreme conditions, such as Shelton being absent with foul trouble, they rarely are in the game at the same time. And they represent the three stages of human growth.
Hancock, who appears absolutely undernourished, starts. Springs comes off the bench and has the physique of a superheavyweight boxer. Frazier is very close to being a basketball fatty.
They alternate very effectively. Hancock opens each game because of Thompson's sometimes superstitious nature. He started when Spriggs was hurt earlier in the season. The Hoyas won. And won. And won. So Hancock is on the court when the ball is thrown up for the opening tip.
And off the court when it comes down.
Or that was so until Friday night. Against Maryland, he increased his usual minute of playing time in the first few seconds. In as much pressure as any game of his career, he took the tip and sank a 13-foot jumper.
"He doesn't go quickly for the company line," Thompson said. "He's a tough kid mentally, with a lot of guile. He thinks the coach is crazy for not playing him 40 minutes every game."
By the company line, Thompson was referring to his trying to conform his Hoyas to a suit-and-tie dress code, yes-sir manners and a speak-no-evil public attitude toward every opponent.
Apparently, Thompson has been telling the team it needs a strong defensive forward. After 15 strong defensive minutes against Maryland, Hancock told Thompson: "You can stop looking for that strong defensive forward -- if you stop playing me at center."
Frazier also accepts Thompson's ways after occasionally questioning them. He irritated the coach with some honest remarks to reporters before the Maryland game.
"We told him we got him off the hook," Thompson said over the largest hot-fudge sundae in memory early today.
Later, after a press conference, Thompson talked about dividing minutes among Hancock, Frazier and Spriggs by instinct.
"A feel," he said of his substitutions. "What's predetermined is that (Terry Fenlon goes in for Sleepy (Floyd) and Hancock starts. Then I'm comin' with feelings. That's another reason I sit in the middle of the bench (among his players, rather than next to his assistants)."
Thompson often can turn a press conference into a sermonette -- and his theme toward altruism, about how "we look for team play but reward selfishness, recognize the players who score the most points.
"A lot of kids know how to play basketball," he added. "But they don't know how to win. Some people (coaches) look for reputations (when recruiting). We look for players."
Because Iowa's all-American, Ronnie Lester, arguably America's best guard, is limping noticeably with a knee that required innovative surgery in late January, Georgetown will not need to overplay him the way it did King.
Straight up, Georgetown can win, inside or outside, slow or fast.
"We've told the players it's only 40 minutes to the final four," Thompson said. Also, Thompson has told the Hoyas he and the staff will be going to Indianapolis, anyway, for the coach's convention.
He has challenged them to play well enough to come along.