Georgetown Coach John Thompson delivered a valedictory defense of his basketball program last night, covering a variety of subjects from the trials of Patrick Ewing to the trials of Tulane University.
Thompson, in a lengthy speech at an annual awards banquet for his Georgetown team at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, dealt with many of the controversies that followed the Hoyas this season, in which they were the runners-up for the national championship.
Before a group of 800 Georgetown supporters and staffers, he discussed everything from "Hoya Paranoia," to the loss in the NCAA final to Villanova. He also dealt with the current point shaving scandal at Tulane, using it as an example of what could happen to a program that is run too freely.
"Everybody has advice for me," Thompson said. "People say, 'John, you protect your players too much. You've got to expose them.' That's the mentality in the media, expose them, freedom. Do you really believe those kids at Tulane are bad kids? They're my kids and your kids. Give them exposure. That's like throwing them in the Atlantic Ocean and telling them to swim.
"They say we're paranoid. You know what we do? When we register in a hotel, we switch rooms, change keys, so no one knows whose room is whose. When someone tries to call a room they get the wrong one. You know why we do that? Because sometimes those folks who call want to throw games, want to sell dope.
"People say we are protective. We are. People say we don't let people into our inner circle. We don't."
Much of Thompson's speech was devoted to a passionate tribute to Ewing, who received the Most Valuable Player and Scholar Athlete Awards. He applauded Ewing's decision to stay in school, rather than forgo his senior year for the NBA, and his calm demeanor in the face of criticism, some of it racist. Thompson said he has taken one of Ewing's sneakers as a memento and placed it on a shelf next to Bill Russell's.
"People resent Patrick for his success," Thompson said. "They have more problems with his success than he does. But he epitomizes humility. He is the standard by which others will be judged . . . I've seen him as a young man take on a burden of responsibility that few adults ever have. Try being in a place with 30,000 seats and people telling you you can't read. Try turning down a million-dollar contract to stay in school . . . Try taking that weight on your shoulders."
Thompson, in his first statement about losing the national championship, said that Georgetown will be a winner again, even without the all-America center.
"We wanted to cry," he said. "But we don't cry at Georgetown. We wanted to win that national championship, it was important to us. But don't cry for us. We're wounded but not dead . . . We're going to miss Pat. We're going to win when Pat is gone. But we'll miss him."