For years, dozens of college basketball coaches have spent thousands of hours searching for cerebral ways to beat Georgetown. Tonight, some street players whose idea of a good shot is anything beyond midcourt came as close as many of the deep thinkers.
Loyola of Chicago is an appealing enough team, until you realize it has as much discipline as a drippy faucet. Its next well-conceived play will be its first.
But the Hoyas got caught up in the frenzy, and for only the third time all season trailed at the half. Had the Ramblers not melted into the gang that couldn't even come close to shooting straight, they might have made matters more dramatic than 12 points.
Every player in Georgetown's starting lineup is superior to every regular Rambler. So what were the smaller, weaker, less-disciplined guys doing ahead by two with five minutes gone in the second half?
Well, a squirt point guard named Carl Golston was running some large rings around the Hoyas and feeding teammates for embarrassingly open jump shots.
Golston is 5 feet 9. But he plays quite a lot larger, and thinks he can whip anyone one-on-one. Which he often does.
"Yeah, baby, yeah," he said to the official who called it Loyola ball off the opening tip of the NCAA East Regional semifinal. For 25 minutes, that's how it was for a stunned crowd pulling for the 12-point underdogs.
Andre Battle would outduel Patrick Ewing for a rebound and score off Golston's miss; Greg Williams would drive nearly the length of the floor and lift a layup over Ewing.
Loyola 4, Georgetown 2.
"Yeah, baby. Yeah."
The Hoyas were making things terribly tough for themselves, missing lots of open shots and failing to create ways to get even easier ones.
"Thinking instead of reacting" is how Coach John Thompson put it. "We had been overcoaching."
Whatever, Ewing sometimes would get a pass low in the paint, a few feet to the left of the basket, and forget for an instant that there wasn't a real player on his hip just this once.
No 7-foot Bill Wennington playing bump-and-bump. No Joe Kleine or Jon Koncak. Nor was there always a swarm of guards darting toward him the instant the ball arrived.
All Ewing needed do, ever so often, was turn, keep the ball above his head against forward-sized Andre Moore and flip in a fairly easy bank shot. Instead, he opted once for a tricky finger roll; later came an off-balance jump-hook.
Only when Thompson ordered a spread offense did Ewing and the other Hoyas realize how comfortable an offense could become.
Here it came, midway through the second half. Some might question what a coach with better players was doing in a semistall.
Thompson was saying, to his players and those watching here and on national television: we can score any time Patrick gets the ball and everyone else moves out of his way.
Sure enough, Ewing flipped a short jump-hook over the isolated and helpless Moore; next time, same place, Ewing faked the hook and beat Moore inside for a layup.
From that layup, it was a Georgetown laydown. The Hoyas were not always unerring; the Ramblers almost always were, averaging about an air ball a minute.
Could such an offensive offense as Loyola generate more than a scare? Does it deserve to?
Nah, baby, nah.
Comes the collision for the regional championship so many wanted: Georgetown versus Georgia Tech. The best in the Big East against the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
In those long nights agonizing over how to beat the Hoyas, one pattern became clear: A team needed at least two massive players inside to battle Ewing, a couple of clever guards to beat the Hoyas' press and grace under pressure.
Say hello to Georgia Tech.
That's the accepted theory anyway, that Tech may be a bit underrated, despite finishing in a tie for the ACC regular- season championship and winning the postseason tournament.
The rest of basketball hopes; the Hoyas roll on.
Tech was the antithesis of Loyola. It was dramatically better from the outside than in close. Mark Price was close to unerring from 25 feet with a large hand in his face; he missed once from 25 inches.
The other guard, Bruce Dalrymple, was exceptional against the highly regarded Bruce Douglas of Illinois. Douglas had one field goal and nine turnovers for the night.
In one two-play sequence, Dalrymple stripped Douglas near midcourt; later, he flashed toward Douglas and quickly backed off. Flustered, Douglas tried a weak pass that fluttered into Dalrymple's hands.
The problem with Tech's front-line players is that most are inexperienced. Yvon Joseph has been playing serious basketball just a few years.
"No big deal," he said of his matchup with the college game's most dominant player, Ewing. "I'm not scared."
Joseph wanted to make sure the tiny note takers surrounding him in the Georgia Tech dressing room were certain of that.
"I am not scared," he said again.
He added: "I might play bad, but I'm going to take it to him. I'm serious. I've played against (Oklahoma's Wayman) Tisdale, and he's good. No, great. I've played against Kleine.
"I'm serious. I do not back down."