By now there are virtually no secrets, not about Georgetown, not about anybody. Thirty games, 16 of them in the Big East, reveal just about every strength and every weakness a team has.
If it wasn't apparent earlier in the season, it certainly is now, two days away from its opening-round game against Texas Tech in the NCAA tournament: Georgetown isn't a great team any more, but it certainly is very good. How good is what we're about to find out. Even Coach John Thompson said recently that he isn't even sure how good his team is.
"I knew last year going in what we had," Thompson said. "I know we're good, but I don't know how good?"
What we do know is that Georgetown has three excellent perimeter players in Reggie Williams, David Wingate and Michael Jackson, plus one who is vastly underrated in senior guard Horace Broadnax, who might have made a major difference in the Big East tournament had he not been sidelined with a sprained back (he is expected to play Thursday). All have played up to expectations, and probably up to their potential, most or all of the season.
What we also know is that the Hoyas don't have a proven and complete inside player, an experienced hulk in the mold of Michael Graham who can help center Ralph Dalton by providing five or six rebounds per game, seven or eight points, and clogging up the middle on defense. It's ironic that a team associated with intimidation the past four years so desperately needs an intimidator the next three weeks.
Thompson said he told his team on Sunday, "You can win games from the perimeter, but you win championships in the paint."
On the other hand, Thompson said he can't turn a "missile team" -- one built around jump shots -- into a power team. Freshman Johnathan Edwards and sophomore Ronnie Highsmith both will be depended upon to provide quality minutes beginning Thursday when the Hoyas play Texas Tech at 7 p.m. in Dayton, Ohio. But neither is ready to carry a team through March.
If there is one area to second-guess Thompson it's that he perhaps should have put the talented but green Edwards in the lineup along with Dalton from Day 1 and left him, so he might have ripened.
But even under the circumstances, there may be a way to compromise. Just because a team doesn't have an able 7-foot pivotman doesn't mean the available players can't work inside. Louisville does it every year, rarely with people taller than 6-8. And few of them are more talented than the 6-7 Williams and 6-5 Wingate. It wouldn't be surprising to see Williams and Wingate use their considerable athletic talents to work closer to the basket for shots this week.
Thompson's team-oriented style of play has been an overwhelming success -- this is Georgetown's eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance. But one wonders, in the absence of an experienced big man, if the Hoyas don't need to gamble now. Maybe Williams, who averages 13 shots per game, should average 20 from now on. Same for Wingate.
In the NCAA tournament, shooting percentages invariably drop because of better defense. Thompson already has acknowledged that if the Hoyas, playing as a perimeter team, don't hit the jumpers they will be "saying their Hail Marys."
As always, Thompson is more concerned about defense. It's there that the need for a big man is most glaring. "The people who beat us this year have gone inside and gone over the top," he said.
There are only a few quality big men in the nation this year, but most of them seem to be waiting for the Hoyas in the Midwest regional. Several teams there could cause the same kind of inside problems for Georgetown that Syracuse and St. John's have in winning four of five from the Hoyas this year. Kansas, with 7-foot Greg Dreiling and 6-10 Danny Manning, is one of them; North Carolina State, with 6-11 Chris Washburn and 6-10 Charles Shackleford; Washington, with 7-footer Chris Welp; and Michigan, with 6-11 Roy Tarpley and assorted other 6-8 bruisers, are the others.
Size, however, isn't everything, which Villanova proved last year. Georgetown is still among the national leaders in defense; its opponents are shooting only 41 percent. And Georgetown still is the nation's best team at sustaining A-level defensive pressure over five or six games. This is one of perhaps a half-dozen teams in the nation that know they can shoot 40 percent and win.
There was always the feeling, with Ewing, that Georgetown was invincible, that it would always win the close games, and that it had the killer insinct that a champion in any sport needs.
Those characteristics are no longer present. The Hoyas almost never lose to a team they should beat. But they have lost six close games this season (five because they couldn't make free throws) and have had a problem putting away teams when presented with the opportunity.
How successful they are in altering that pattern could have a lot to do with how far they go in this year's NCAA tournament.