A visit from Georgetown University's basketball team seems more a crusade than a game. And why should it change just because the Hoyas' 29-game winning streak was broken on Saturday by St. John's?
Approximately 33,000 people are expected to be in the Carrier Dome Monday night at 8 (WTTG-TV-5), when top-ranked Georgetown takes the court to play the 11th-ranked Orangemen. That would enable Syracuse to break its own single-game attendance record for an on-campus arena.
St. John's might have broken one Georgetown streak. But the Hoyas come here with another one, which many say is even more impressive. Georgetown has won 26 straight on the road since losing at De Paul in December 1983.
Probably the biggest topic of discussion in college basketball this weekend is Georgetown's defeat, especially here in Syracuse.
"To me, it really makes no difference that Georgetown already lost," Syracuse forward Andre Hawkins said. "It probably gives Georgetown a little more incentive. Some of the guys on our team have sort of mentioned that they'd like to have had a chance to stop a winning streak of that nature."
After watching some of the St. John's-Georgetown game on videotape, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said: "I don't think it (the defeat) will affect the way Georgetown plays . . . But they had already won two games in overtime. And if they had come back from 18 points down to win that one, they might just think, 'Hey, we're never going to lose.'
"But most psychology in basketball goes out the window at 8 o'clock anyway. If Georgetown wins, everybody'll say the loss helped them. If they lose, everybody will say it hurt them. You can set it up any way you want."
As good as the Hoyas are, they can't shoot 40 percent from the field and 50 percent from the foul line, as they did against St. John's, and expect to win.
But as Coach John Thompson said, the worst thing to do would be to overanalyze a one-point loss to the third-ranked team. Georgetown will not become the first team since Indiana's 1976 championship team to go undefeated. But, otherwise, the loss is meaningless, other than for NCAA tournament seeding. The Hoyas could play very well here Monday night and lose again. Now that all of Georgetown's Big East road games are played off campus, the Carrier Dome probably is the toughest place for them to play.
And as Boeheim said today: "We've had, over the years, more success against them than anybody in our league. We're the only team that's beaten them in the Big East tournament."
He attributes Syracuse's lapses this season to youth. Hawkins is the only senior regular.
Otherwise, Boeheim starts two freshmen -- 6-foot-10 center Ron Seikaly from Athens and 6-4 guard Michael Brown from Baltimore Dunbar. Forward Herman Harried, another freshman from Dunbar, plays a lot. And the two leading scorers are junior forward Rafael Addison and sophomore point guard Pearl Washington.
"I'm not sure if we're going to get where we want to be in the next week or two," Boeheim said, "or if it will take three or four more weeks. We do things we shouldn't do, and it shows." One thing Syracuse hasn't done much is score inside, especially field goals on the first shot.
But the Orangemen do a lot of things right; they're 12-3. Addison averages nearly 18 points. And Washington, after having only 22 points and 16 turnovers in three games before last Wednesday, has scored 26 and 30 in his last two.
"He usually does well against teams that pressure," Boeheim said. "St. John's came out (Wednesday) with pressure man-to-man and Pitt (on Saturday) pressured half-court. If you pressure him, he usually does score."
There have been very few, if any, instances to recall when Georgetown hasn't pressed. And Washington has done some of his best work against the Hoyas.