The top-ranked Georgetown basketball team prepared to return to Washington, D.C., tonight, and Coach John Thompson says the status of injured point guard Michael Jackson will not be determined until he is examined by team physicians there.
Jackson injured his right shoulder in a collision with a North Carolina A&T player in the first half of Saturday night's 61-56 victory in the inaugural Copa Navidad. He watched the rest of the game with the shoulder wrapped, as sophomore Reggie Williams, a starter at forward, filled in most of the time.
It was uncertain whether the shoulder was dislocated or separated, a more severe injury.
If Jackson cannot play Wednesday when the Hoyas open their Big East Conference schedule at home against Seton Hall, Thompson will turn to Williams and junior Horace Broadnax.
Williams, Thompson said, might be the second-best point guard on the team, anyway. "At 6-foot-7, he can see over the top of some zone defenses and spot some things," Thompson said. "He can also play inside and outside."
After leading the Hoyas with 21 points Saturday night, Williams said, "I like to play small forward, but I'm ready to do whatever the coach wants me to do. I've been preparing for the possibility of playing point guard. I wasn't nervous when Michael went out of the game and I had to do it."
Georgetown (11-0) heads into conference play with the kind of experience Thompson thinks will help his team. In the Copa Navidad, Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T gave the defending NCAA champions sterner tests than such name teams as De Paul and Nevada-Las Vegas.
"Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T were as well-coached as any team we've played," Thompson said. He pointed out that teams with bigger and more talented players often try to go head to head with Georgetown, while State and A&T switched defenses frequently and effectively, played more patiently and worked to draw Georgetown's big men away from the basket.
"I think this was very good preparation for Big East play," Thompson said, "because many teams in our league will approach us the way these teams did."
Since Ed Meyers, a former assistant to Thompson, took over as coach of Tennessee State a week ago, the team has had only four days to practice. Still, it led Georgetown by a point in the second half, something no other team has done this season.
Don Corbett's Aggies trailed by only two points midway through the second half, and gave the Hoyas their closest game of the season, 61-56.
It was one of the few times two predominantly black schools appeared on national television (ESPN) in college basketball's regular season.
Guard Jim Brown of N.C. A&T was asked what allowed the two small schools to accomplish something the highly-ranked ones could not. "I think it was just personal pride," Brown, son of the former football great, said.
"I think it was pride, and not letting ourselves be intimidated. I watch Georgetown on television against top 20 teams, and even their big men play passively. We weren't going to lose playing passively."
Copa Navidad was conceived last spring, during the U.S. Olympic basketball trials in Bloomington, Ind. Thompson, North Carolina Coach Dean Smith, and Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt agreed that a Christmas doubleheader in Puerto Rico could be successful, and that predominantly black schools -- which many big-time schools will not play -- would be invited.
It is a decision none of the parties has reason to regret.
Both teams also provided tough games for Seton Hall, Georgetown's next opponent. Thompson, asked about the Big East season, didn't limit his responses to St. John's, Syracuse and Villanova. "People don't seem to realize how many good teams are in the league," he said. "Providence beat Chaminade, which beat Louisville and Southern Methodist."