Georgetown Coach John Thompson was still in the media spotlight Thursday night, after his Hoyas had lost to Syracuse, 79-72, thereby being eliminated from the Big East Conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.

So that's when Thompson--his 15th-ranked team 21-9 and waiting to find out what fate the NCAA selection committee will deal it when at-large tournament bids are announced Sunday--told the mob of press his Hoyas deserved one of those bids.

"I've said it all week and I'll say it again. How can you be in the top 20 all season long, then in one week, be out of the top 52?" Thompson said.

Today, from the dark side of elimination, there were no minicams or mobs around him. So Thompson quietly turned to specifics. He knew that his team, which had already beaten No. 20 Syracuse (20-9) twice this season, including once Monday night, had played without inspiration Thursday night.

Another bugaboo of youth, Thompson said.

"You can only go to the well so many times," he said today. "It's not playing a team three times that matters. It's playing them Monday, then again on Thursday. You go over the same stats and defenses with your players. They have to be mature enough to deal with that . . . Several (Georgetown) players didn't have the adrenaline flowing."

In the past four games, 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Bill Martin, inconsistent over the past month, has had his playing time slashed from 30 to 22 minutes per game. Martin averages 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. In 21 minutes against Syracuse, Martin didn't score (he only took one shot).

Furthermore, Martin was replaced by 6-8 freshman David Dunn during the crucial segment of the second half. Dunn's primary task was to try to slow down Syracuse's 6-8 forward Leo Rautins, who scored 18 points, had seven rebounds and six assists.

"Rautins was picking us apart. David (Dunn) was put in because I felt he was agile and tall enough to get in the way of those passes," Thompson said.

As of late, both Dunn and 6-8 freshman Victor Morris, each taller and heavier than Martin, have been taking away Martin's playing time.

"Teams are playing two and three players around Patrick (Ewing, Georgetown's 7-foot center). We have to make them pay for that. We should be an excellent offensive rebounding team," Thompson said.

There are times when the Georgetown inexperience lowers those expectations.

"With this team," Thompson said, "you need 10 timeouts a game. When the (opposing) team makes a run at you, you have to keep passing the ball around, take the crowd out of it. Sometimes, we don't do that."

Certainly, injuries have complicated this Georgetown season. Junior guard Fred Brown, suffering from a strained patella tendon in his right knee, likely won't be back this season.

Also, if the Georgetown starters aren't playing out of sync now, then they are playing out of position. David Wingate, a 6-5 freshman, is a guard playing forward; junior guard Gene Smith, replacing Brown, is a premier reserve forced to start, and freshman guard Michael Jackson rotates between being a shooting guard and a point guard, between hot and cold.

"Patrick is a given," Thompson said.

In waiting for the NCAA selection committee to speak, this is the only Georgetown element that is.