The college basketball season still is young -- even younger than Patrick Ewing. As Georgetown Coach John Thompson quaffed his traditional postgame milk, he seemed to be thinking about this.
Gerogetown had just lost to the University of Southwestern Louisiana, 70-61, in a firstround game Friday night in the fourth annual Great Alaska Shootout. Thompson was not pleased.
Some things just don't go well with milk. "We'll lose a lot of games if we continue to play like this. They controlled the tempo. There is no reason to make excuses. We just got beat," he said.
The Hoyas came to icy Anchorage with a cool No. 5 national ranking in the preseason polls. After becoming one of the first upset victims of the new season, they needed to beat the University of Alaska-Anchorage at 2 a.m. EST Sunday and one other team just to finish No. 5 in Alaska.
Anchorage lost to Washington State, 83-56, to complete a first round in which Iona upset Ohio State, 58-57, and Marquette routed NcNeese State, 88-57.
Early today, Ohio State beat McNeese State, 63-60, and Marquette defeated Iona, 67-54.
The only game the Hoyas could think about was Thompson's first season-opening loss in his 10 years at Georgetown."
"We have to keep perspective," said senior center Ed Spriggs. "The ranking is for other people. We don't worry about it."
This was the first intercollegiate game for the freshmen: Ewing, Anthony Jones and Bill Martin. They were 4,000 miles and five time zones from McDonough Arena, a long way from high school, a long way from home.
Each appeared nervous in a game in which one of the few categories led by the Hoyas was turnovers, 17-16.
Ewing, a 7-foot center, replaced Spriggs 3:50 into the game. It took him 15 seconds to score his first points. Fittingly, it was a slam dunk, his right arm coming down from somewhere close to the peak of Mount McKinley.
In his 18-minute stay, Ewing has seven points, four rebounds and five fouls. He fouled out with 6:24 to play, the Hoyas behind, 55-47.
"I thought Patrick played very well," said Thompson, the mouthpiece of the freshmen, whom he refuses to let speak to the press until January. "We pulled him at times. Maybe later in the year we won't. I think all of the freshmen were a little tight."
Senior guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, who scored a Hoya-high 18 points, said, "We were playing catchup. We were chipping away. We've been in this situation before and won.
The ranking doesn't mean anything. I wish people would stop asking about it."
Said Bobby Paschal, the coach of the team that calls itself the Ragin' Cajuns: "Over the summer a lot was written and said about Georgetown. Our kids can read. We can read.
Cajun senior guard Alford Turner, who scored 23 points and usually ran the last leg of the Cajun fast break, said, "Everybody knew about Georgetown. We watched films of them. "We beat them pretty good."
Southwestern Louisiana led, 35-25, at the half. The lead swelled to 66-51 when Turner sank two free throws with two minutes left. Georgetown never led.
As the Cajuns -- a team of running, not renown -- four cornered away the final seconds, it suddenly got colder in Alska for the Hoyas. On the first week of the season in the Last Frontier, they became 0-1.
"They controlled the tempo. They got the offensive rebounds and the defensive rebounds," Thompson said, "Defensively that's where we got hurt."
"This was their first game, and they seemed like they had a lot of pressure on them," said Paschal. "We could not be intimidated by what they did. I felt the key was that we handled their pressure defenses."
The Hoyas tried a full-court press at various times, but it was mostly ineffective. The offense was tentative.
Thompson started the same five players that started the game against Cibona of Yogoslavia, a 78-64 win Nov. 19. Floyd and Fred Brown (zero points) started at guard, Spriggs (four) at center and Mike Hancock (10) and Eric Smith (16) at forward.
These five yeterans, who were here for Georgetown's fourth-place finish in last year's Shootout, had as much trouble keeping up with the Cajuns as they did keeping up with their ranking.