Certainly, they are both teams of speed.

So tonight at 8 o'clock, when American University plays Georgetown at Capital Centre, it seems only natural for both teams to turn to that speed. The purpose being to make quick recoveries.

Georgetown (6-1) is ranked No. 5 by the Associated Press after the 68-63 loss to No. 1 Virginia Saturday night. Hoyas Coach John Thompson now talks of "the national impact" of that epic.

"After a game like that, any game you play is built up to be anticlimactic," Thompson said. "You can only deal with so much emotion and keep peak form when you're young."

American (3-1) must now regain cohesiveness after a 65-63 loss to Iona in the championship game of the Manufacturers Hanover Classic in New Rochelle, N.Y., Saturday night.

The Eagles' loss was not as highly covered as the Hoyas' loss. It was, however, highly pressurized. AU's Fernando Aunon made the first of two foul shots to tie the score, 63-63, with six seconds left.

Before Aunon could even take his second free throw, however, the Eagles were charged with a lane violation. "We got our defenses mixed up, our signals crossed and moved out of the lane," said Mark Nickens, American's senior forward, who averages 18 points per game.

Then, the game went from turnover to plain over. Iona's Steve Burtt made a 22-footer at the buzzer. "Very disheartening," Nickens said.

What is further disheartening for the Eagles is that senior guard Ed Sloane is doubtful for the Georgetown game because of a groin pull that kept him out of the Iona game. Sloane averages an Eagle-high 21 points per game.

"Leading scorer, best defensive player, some significant numbers," Ed Tapscott, American coach, said, reciting the importance Sloane has to these Eagles.

"Playing without Ed," said Nickens, "is like when we had to play without Boo Bowers two years ago. Every player on our team has a specific role. When one individual is out, it throws things out of sync. We rallied when Boo got hurt; we have to do the same now."

As always, this is a game of pride. It's a provincial pride, too. American sees itself as the gunslinger coming to meet the sheriff at high noon.

"If you beat one of the big guys," Tapscott said, "people take notice."

Nickens said, "The game decides who is the big school on the hill.For the last three years it's been Georgetown."

Sheriff Thompson said. "The cross-city situation makes certain this is not just another game. Anytime we play somebody local, it's a big deal."

When Georgetown freshman guards David Wingate or Michael Jackson bring the ball upcourt tonight, they might think they are looking in the mirror. "You'll see a lot of similarity between what American does and what we do," Thompson said. "Good quickness, they trap, they press. They'll present some problems."

The most eminent Eagle problem tonight likely will be Patrick Ewing, Georgetown's 7-foot sophomore of eminence. AU's tallest starter is 6-foot-8 Andre Adams.

"We'll make Ewing work hard for his baskets," Nickens said.

"We'll try to use our smallness to our advantage. We'll play our game, which is the whole court. We're going to run," said Tapscott.

Last year, the Hoyas defeated the Eagles, 75-63. Nickens scored 24 points in that game. About tonight's matchup, Nickens said, "Georgetown is vulnerable because of their youth. There is still an air of doubt whether American University can win. That bothers me because we have won 75-80 percent of our games over the last couple of years. A win over Georgetown would help immensely."

From the Hilltop, Thompson said, "This will be a different kind of experience for our younger players."