The impact of Fred Brown's return to the Georgetown basketball lineup cannot be ignored.

Brown's 33-minute performance Wednesday against Southern was the longest he has played since undergoing surgery to remedy tendinitis in his right knee early in the fall. What a coincidence that Patrick Ewing scored a career-high 35 points the night Brown returned.

No coincidence.

Brown, the stylish junior play maker, can make Ewing a more effective scorer and give Georgetown the experience the team has lacked. The Hoyas may need to call on that experience beginning Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST, when 11th-ranked Georgetown plays Wisconsin of the Big Ten in the opening round of the Winston Tire Classic at the Sports Arena.

In the second game, eighth-ranked Alabama plays host Southern Cal, with the winners meeting Wednesday night after midnight.

"Fred's coming back has a great psychological effect," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said today. "He gets the ball into Patrick, which puts extra pressure on the other team's defense.

"This is not to knock the freshmen (guards David Wingate, Horace Broadnax and Michael Jackson) but they're still trying to figure out what I want done. Freddie already knows. He and I have been through the wars. Fred knows the no-no's and the don'ts. He understands."

Thompson said he played Brown so much against Southern last week to "see if he could withstand the grind. He's not in the physical condition he's going to have to be in to play effectively during the year, but he provides us with flexibility."

Brown, besides playing point guard--where he started as a freshman -- rebounds well enough to play small forward. But what he probably does best is get the ball inside.

"We want to run," Thompson said. "I'd like to continue what we did against Southern--getting the ball inside to Patrick."

Before the season, this game looked like an automatic victory for Georgetown. But Wisconsin, which finished 6-21 last year, is an improved team under first-year Coach Steve Yoder.

"They have big guys who are capable and mobile," Thompson said, referring primarily to forwards Cory Blackwell (18 points and eight rebounds per game) and 6-foot-11 Brad Sellers (15 points, 10 rebounds).

"They're used to good competition," Thompson said. "They play Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Iowa and all the Big Ten schools. It should be a pretty intense game."

It will be only the second game in 13 days for the Hoyas. Thompson, now that exams are over, is holding longer practices than usual (four or five hours) to prepare for this tournament and the upcoming Big East season. "The kids usually dread this time of year," he said.

Georgetown is not the favorite to win the tournament. Alabama, with forward Bobby Lee Hurt (20 points, 10 rebounds per game) and point guard Ennis Whatley (eight assists per game), should defeat USC (5-3), even though the Trojans have not lost at homethis season.