If it wasn't Great Hype II, the gym still was close to full. Red Auerbach was on hand again, the silent sage this time, as anxious as everyone else to see if the end of as wonderful a week of college basketball as the area has seen would be as fine as the start.

It was.

All of this depends on where a fan sits, his perspective on sport. And for pure palm-swetting intensity and effort, last night's 70-69 George Washington victory over American in overtime was as good as Virginia-Georgetown. The celebration certainly was wilder.

When Mike Brown blocked the final AU effort and GW controlled the ball, Dave Hobel grabbed it and heaved it toward the rafters at Smith Center. Then nearly every Colonial, old and young, on the court and off, perhaps even alum Auerbach, embraced someone nearby.

So what do we make of all this? AU beats Georgetown Wednesday night in Capital Centre; GW beats AU last night. Does this vault the Colonials past much of America's elite and into the top 10 nationally?


Still, it's a nice calling card to the rest of the hoop world, fair warning that GW and its fiery Gerry Gimelstob are shortly going to stir some large waves. If GW hardly is the beast of the East, it just might be the yeast of the East: rising.

As John Thompson surely feared a Georgetown letdown Wednesday, Ed Tapscott was troubled about Eagle indifference last night. If the AU coach's pulse hit 170 against the Hoyas, it must have been close to 200 watching free throw after free throw bounce off the rim during the final moments of regulation.

He was supposed to win this one.

But the Colonials were primed. Again, major victory depends on which bench one sits. This week, slaying David ain't bad for GW. For the occasion, Gimelstob even quoted George Allen in pregame meetings. So long had the Colonials studied films, they knew AU, Gimelstob said, "frame by frame."

AU's experience had been a factor in beating the Hoyas; GW's upset was made possible by several relative tots: sophomore Brown and freshmen Troy Webster and Mike O'Reilly.

"Bring on Georgetown," O'Reilly shouted in the dressing room.

He was reminded that the Colonials already were the unofficial city champs, having beaten Howard before AU slipped by the sixth-ranked Hoyas.

"We still want Georgetown," he insisted.

Gimelstob was more realistic.

Dynamite team you've got there, a passerby said.

"Not yet," the coach shot back. "We're like a cap pistol right now."

Good as it's been these last seven days, we should cry for more. Maryland-Georgetown, for instance. SOON! We need everybody playing each other, as near as that is possible. We also need the seemingly impossible: one of the area big-timers playing the University of the District of Columbia.

Think about it. UDC has everything but a chance. Division II status; Division I talent. Forty percent of any honest college all-Met team wears Firebird red and yellow. That would be Earl Jones and Michael Britt, who would form the front line with Georgetown's Patrick Ewing.

Ewing and Jones could play together because they have played together, in summer-league games and at the National Sports Festival two years ago. Britt might be the area's all-time stylist.

We're being loose with area here.

Truth be known, only one of any all-met team at the moment--Maryland's Adrian Branch--has Washington-area roots. The rest are imports, Ewing from Massachusetts, Jones a native West Virginian, Britt from deep in Virginia and AU's Gordon Austin from New Jersey.

Two Washingtonians with glittering reputations, Anthony Jones and Billy Martin of Georgetown, have been ordinary so far, although not from lack of effort. They may be too constricted by Thompson.

From Saturday to Wednesday, Georgetown went from hope to help. All the maturity the Hoyas seemed to gain the second half against Virginia melted against AU in that 62-61 loss. Some witnesses insist they have never seen a Georgetown team more undisciplined.

But few teams this side of the Alcindor- and Walton-led ones at UCLA have been flawless depending so heavily on so many freshman and sophomores. Again, inexperience is relative. Two scene stealers last night were freshmen O'Reilly and Webster.

In a stretch of three possessions, point guard O'Reilly forced turnovers by each of the replacements for the foul-plagued Austin and scored on a jumper. He made half his 10 field-goal tries and was very good against the Eagles' full-court press.

That was big for the Colonials, beating AU's pressure. Mostly, they did. Center Brown once broke free for a Joe Theismann-type pass and followed with a dunk. He was 10 for 16 for the night, with 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Each team was without important players at important times.

AU botched three bonus free throw chances in the final 88 seconds of regulation. That tension was thicker than usual became evident when Austin, Mark Nickens and Juan Jones, all very good, missed with AU ahead by three, 60-57.

Freshman Webster was just three for 10, but he made a move in the final seconds of overtime for what proved to be the winning basket that certified his reputation as a big-timer. What he did was take the ball through all the congestion AU could muster and sink a twisting layup.

"Coast to coast," Gimelstob kept saying.

That was after he offered a familiar plea:

"This is the type game that shows area teams ought to be playing each other more often."

Can't happen soon enough.