Georgetown Coach John Thompson has found a lot of things to like about his team this season -- its size, quickness and defense. But Saturday night, in a game against Villanova at Capital Centre, he found something new to like.
"I like their stomach," he said after the 20th-ranked Hoyas defeated the Wildcats, 71-62, in overtime after going scoreless during the final three minutes of regulation and losing a six-point lead. "Particularly young kids, with the game going into overtime, they could have very easily stopped."
They will have to start again tonight at 7:30, when they play Connecticut at Hartford Civic Center. A victory will give the Hoyas first place in the Big East by a half-game over idle Syracuse. It would seem rather remarkable that Georgetown (15-6, 7-3 Big East) is in such a position, given that it is starting three freshmen and did not have junior forward Alonzo Mourning for its first four conference games.
However, asked if he was surprised, Thompson replied: "Not really.
"This is not a statistical team," he said. "We can't get ourselves caught up in statistics. We have to get caught up in performing better. We cannot judge if we lose a couple of ballgames or are not shooting well."
Saturday night, the Hoyas won despite making just one basket during an eight-minute stretch in the middle of the first half. But the 6-foot-10 Mourning continued his resurgence from a strained arch, 7-2 senior Dikembe Mutombo exhibited fine all-around play, freshman guards Joey Brown and Charles Harrison combined to score 36 points and Georgetown made 13 of 16 free throws in overtime.
Brown was named Big East rookie of the week yesterday after scoring 21 points against Villanova, the second time this week he established a career best. Mutombo, named Big East player of the week, did not dominate the Wildcats (12 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks) the way he dominated Providence on Wednesday (20, 14, 8), but everytime Georgetown needed a rebound Saturday, he got it. In addition, he and Mourning drew so much attention from Villanova that Brown and Harrison got open jumpers simply by getting the ball into the low post.
Thompson said he is anticipating more slumping defense from Connecticut (14-7, 5-6), which seems to be coming back together after a six-game losing streak dropped its record to 12-7.