Perspective rarely dribbles past John Thompson. It wouldn't dare.
"We won," the Georgetown coach said yesterday, "and I chewed the kids out about a lot of things."
Yes, the No. 14 Hoyas defeated De Paul, 71-65, yesterday before 14,456 at Capital Centre and a national television audience.
And yes, those Capital Centre fans were chanting again and again, "We Want St. John's!" after David Wingate made his 13th free throw (he scored 19 points) and his sixth straight in a 42-second span, giving Georgetown a puncture-proof 70-61 lead with 31 seconds left.
And yes, De Paul's cuddly Coach Ray Meyer, his team 13-7, did shake his head and say, "We died easy. We kept fouling the wrong guy all day. We sure made a hero out of Wingate."
But the fact is, Georgetown (16-5) let a 17-point lead with 16 minutes left in the game shrink to 54-49 with nine minutes left. The Hoyas then went into a spread offense.
The De Paul of old might have made this a Hoya-frying afternoon. But this is the De Paul of young.
Even with freshman guard Tony Jackson scoring 22 points and senior guard Bernard Randolph scoring 16 as a reserve, including eight of the Blue Demons' final 14, De Paul never got closer than five points.
Georgetown, led by Patrick Ewing's 20 points, shot 63 percent in the game, making 10 of 14 shots (71 percent) in the second half.
The Hoyas made only two field goals in the last nine minutes, relying on Wingate's free-throw shooting (he made nine of 11 free throws during that time, 13 of 15 in the game) to make the spread offense purposeful.
Thompson said of the lead that nearly went up in Blue Demon smoke: "I don't think our kids are robots. I've seen the Celtics lose a lead, too . . . It's just something that happens. You always wish that you could bury them."
But the Blue Demons might have gotten closer than five. With Georgetown leading, 59-53, with 4:23 remaining, the Hoyas' Anthony Jones shot an air ball from the free throw line, the ball barely grazing the net. Rules specify that when a free throw does not touch the rim, the opposing team automatically takes possession.
It did not happen this way, though. Georgetown guard Gene Smith raced underneath the basket and saved Jones' limp attempt from going out of bounds. Smith then scored the Hoyas' last field goal on a drive, improving the lead to 61-53 with 4:08 left.
When Jackson made two free throws, closing the score to 61-55 with 3:49 left, the Blue Demons could have been within four points, rather than six. It could have made a difference.
"I just let the ball go, didn't even try for it. It was an air ball. I figured we would get the ball back because of the rule," said De Paul center Brett Burkholder.
"You have got to be smart about those kinds of things," Thompson said with a smile.
And Smith was so smart at that key moment. "I saw it coming up short and I just went for it," said Smith.
"I just pulled it up short. I don't even know if it hit the rim," said Jones, who played his best game in eons, scoring 13 points in 23 minutes. Jones still is just six for 25 from the free throw line.
"There is no excuse for an official to miss a brick not hitting anything," said Meyer. "(One referee) told us it hit the rim and went straight out of bounds.
Meyer then shrugged, and admitted, "Ah, that didn't lose us the game, though . . . We played like we were scared to death."
Georgetown led, 36-28, at halftime as De Paul, a pattern team that likes to set its offense, tried to outrun the running Hoyas. It didn't work.
"But we play better when we have to fight back," said Jackson. Perhaps the Hoyas didn't know this. They opened the second half with a Ewing-dominated 13-4 streak and the Georgetown lead reached its apex, 49-32, with 15:41 to play.
However, with Jackson challenging any and every Hoya on the court--"He was even shooting over Patrick," marveled Smith--De Paul responded with a 12-3 streak of its own, closing within 52-44 with 12 minutes left.
"Basically, we just stopped running," said Georgetown's Michael Jackson. "That let them back in."
"I remember looking up at the clock late in the game," said guard Kenny Patterson of De Paul, "and I saw we were within five. I didn't even know it."
But Georgetown made 13 of 18 free throws in the last nine minutes. And that was that.
St. John's, first place in the Big East, will be here Wednesday. Martin heard the "We Want St. John's!" cheers and said with a smile, "Sounds good to me.