Alcorn State Coach Davey Whitney, a modern-day Davey about to confront a modern-day Goliath, says he understands the situation.
Alcorn State (22-9) will play Georgetown (21-9) Friday night at 7 (WDCA-TV-20) in an NCAA Midwest Regional game in Freedom Hall. The winner advances to play Memphis State (22-7) here Sunday at 1 p.m. The loser advances to the offseason.
Most everyone knows about Georgetown and Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas' all-America 7-foot center who averages 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. "We've been working since Day 1 to get to the NCAA tournament and I'm pumped to be here," he said.
Then again, few people know about Alcorn's all-sophomore starting lineup. It doesn't include a player taller than 6-foot-8, but does include 5-10 Eddie Archie, the Tiny Archibald-type guard with 222 assists and a nickname of "The Little Magician."
Furthermore, few know that these Braves are a running, full-court pressing team that defeated Xavier, 81-75, in an NCAA preliminary game Tuesday night to get here, or that their home is Lorman, Miss., or that their league is the Southwestern Athletic Conference, or that their home court is called "the Scalping Ground," or even, for heaven's sakes, that their name is pronounced "All-corn."
Maybe that's why Whitney says of playing the Hoyas, "I'm fearful.
"I'm afraid we might get out-talented. We've grown a little this year, but maybe not enough to beat Georgetown. We still do the things you're not supposed to do, kindergarten things," Whitney said.
On the Hoya half of be-careful-what-you-say-lest-you-make the-opposition-angry, Georgetown Coach John Thompson said at a press conference today, "I think most people think if Georgetown is playing Alcorn State, then Georgetown will be playing Memphis State on Sunday. But if we take that attitude, Alcorn State will be playing Memphis State on Sunday."
At practice today at Freedom Hall, which was open to the media and public, came doses of good and bad for Georgetown, ranked No. 20.
The bad came when freshman forward David Wingate, averaging 12.7 points per game, suddenly stooped to the floor during a practice drill, holding his lower back and wincing in pain. Wingate received aid from the team trainer and missed the last hour and a half of the two-hour practice, sitting on the bench in his sweatsuit with a pained expression on his face.
Thompson usually does not allow the media or the public to watch practices, but all teams in this subregional were required to open their practices today only. Asked after practice about Wingate's injury, Thompson replied curtly.
"I don't know," he said. Then he turned away, unwilling to elaborate. Wingate was unavailable for comment.
Now the dose of good. Junior guard Fred Brown, out for the last five weeks because of a strained patella tendon in his right knee, looked remarkably fit today, running and passing with less strain than he has all season.
"We might play Fred in spots," said Thompson. "He could have played in (last week's) Big East tournament, but we purposely let him rest himself so he could exercise his leg more and get ready for the NCAA tournament. His leg is probably much stronger now than when he attempted to play before."
Alcorn State finished third in the SWAC, behind Texas Southern and Alabama State, but won the tournament to reach the NCAA preliminary round. Besides Archie, who averages 11.8 points per game, the Braves are led by 6-6 forward Aaron Brandon (16 points).
Georgetown and Alcorn State had two common oponents, Syracuse and Alabama State. Georgetown defeated Syracuse in two of three games; Alcorn State lost to Syracuse, 110-72. Georgetown defeated Alabama State, 99-76, but Alabama State twice defeated Alcorn State. Which brings us to Davey and Goliath.
"The biggest difference in the ball clubs is Georgetown's man in the middle (Ewing). Alcorn has good outside shooters, but he'll nullify things inside," said Alabama State Coach James Oliver. "Alcorn will have to play to its potential to win. Georgetown may not even have to do that to win."