The kids from Georgetown may not believe they're one of the nation's better basketball teams yet. But at least now they know they're not that far away.
They proved it last night, hanging in against undefeated and No. 1 ranked DePaul, staging a strong second half rally before losing, 72-67, in the opening game of the Cabrillo Classic at the San Diego Sports Arena.
"It's just a matter of believing more in ourselves," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson. "We were in good position to win it if we had capitalized on scoring opportunities."
With 3:55 left, Ed Spriggs sank two free throws to put Georgetown within 65-61. But Skip Dillard and DePaul's main man, Mark Aguirre, each scored two free throws and the Blue Demons were able to maintain their advantage the rest of the way.
Aguirre, who had 18 points in the first 20 minutes, could score only six in the second half, in which DePaul had just seven field goals.
The country's top-rated team was also outrebounded, 49-30. But Ray Meyer's team converted 32 of 35 attempts from the line, compared to just 17 of 27 for Georgetown.
"Rebounding is all desire and we just didn't have any desire tonight," said Meyer. "We've had some stinkers this year, but this may have been the worst. That's not nice to say because Georgetown had a good game.
"But at time we stood around like five stones out there."
Georgetown felt just as badly.
"We're 6-4 and we might be undefeated," said Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, who topped the Hoyas with 20 points on eight of 19 shooting. "We want to prepare ourselves against the best teams in the country, but you don't just want to be in a game. You want to win it."
Georgetown received big efforts from Spriggs, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, and freshman Fred Brown, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
But Thompson's young club struggled against DePaul's disciplined zone, particularly in the first half. Although Terry Cummings, the Blue Demons' best big man, fouled out with 13:05 to play, the Hoyas, who trailed, 40-31, at the half, could not take advantage.
"We're worrying more about not losing instead of winning," said Joey Meyer, Ray's son and assistant coach. "We're too conservative. We have to go out and go after it like we did against UCLA. Everybody plays us at fever pitch, but we can't worry about that. We have to make up our minds to go out and just have fun."