So many problems for the Georgetown Hoyas and now comes Syracuse.
Monday at 8 p.m., the No. 17 and falling Hoyas will play the No. 9 Orangemen. A crowd of more than 30,000 is expected in the Carrier Dome--a crowd that will set an NCAA on-campus attendance record. Syracuse holds the current record of 27,318 set against St. John's last season.
Around these parts, Syracuse basketball is serious stuff: that Syracuse is 11-1, 2-0 in the Big East Conference guarantees this. Defeat came to the Orangemen for the first time Saturday night, on the road against North Carolina, 87-64.
Syracuse locals are calling the Georgetown game this area's social event of the winter. The Georgetown tea leaves, conversely, are calling this trouble.
Georgetown lost to unbeaten and seventh-ranked St. John's, 76-67, Saturday afternoon in its Big East opener.
After constant defensive harassment by St. John's, some of which was legal, Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas' 7-foot center, got into two scuffles, once throwing punches.
Perhaps Ewing won his battle. Certainly, Georgetown lost the game. Now the Hoyas are 9-4, 0-1 in the Big East.
There is worry at every corner: forward Anthony Jones has a dislocated elbow and sits; guard Fred Brown has a sore knee and limps, and Ewing has two or more defenders collapsing on his every move and gets more elbows than passes.
After the loss to St. John's, someone mentioned to Georgetown Coach John Thompson that the Hoyas were still young and might excel, soon enough. Even St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca said with diplomacy, "Georgetown is going to be better this year than they were last year."
Thompson responded pointedly: "I know a lot of farmers who waited for their crops to grow and, come harvest, they went broke."
One month ago, Georgetown seemingly had planted seeds of success, what with a 6-0 record and a No. 3 ranking. Since then, the Hoyas have lived in a dust bowl with a 3-4 record, a few injuries and a thorough disregard for consistency.
Syracuse is not known to bring opponents back to good health, either. The Orangemen are led by guard Erich Santifer (20 points per game) and forwards Tony Bruin (16 points) and Leo Rautins (14 points).
In the Carrier Dome last year, Syracuse defeated the Hoyas, 75-70, as Santifer scored 19.
Thompson was unavailable for comment today, remaining in his standard pregame seclusion with his team.
Monday night, 30,000 will make seclusion in Syracuse just a tad more difficult to find.