Saturday, October 22, 2005 - Once-storied programs are poised for return

Once-storied programs are poised for return

Yoni Cohen / Special to

In the early and mid-1980s, Georgetown, Houston, and Indiana were college basketball's elite.
Twenty-some years later, the Hoyas, Cougars and Hoosiers are primed for a return to glory ... or at least to the NCAA tournament.

In 1981, Indiana won the national championship. In 1982, Georgetown was favored, but fell in the final seconds. In 1983, Houston was favored, but lost at the buzzer. In 1984, Georgetown defeated Houston and cut down the nets. In 1985, Georgetown again lost in the finals. In 1987, Indiana once more won the national championship.

In the process, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing and John Thompson, Houston's Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and Indiana's Isiah Thomas, Steve Alford and Bobby Knight popularized the NCAA tournament.

Houston's surprise loss in 1983 and Georgetown's shocking defeat in 1985, perhaps the two greatest upsets in college basketball history, established the NCAA tournament as the most exhilarating event in sports. Never again would the national championship be broadcast on the same night as the Academy Awards.

More recently, all three programs have fallen on hard times. "Phi Slamma Jamma" has been grounded since 1992. "Hoya Paranoia" has not overtaken March Madness since 2001. The Hoosiers have not had a season on the brink since 2003.

This year, however, Georgetown grey, Houston red and Indiana crimson should be back in style come March Madness.


In his first year on his father's throne, John Thompson III all but made the "Princeton Offense" a misnomer. Though last season's Hoyas played at a pace marginally faster than did the Tigers, Georgetown scored more and gave up fewer points per possession than Princeton. Not only did last year's Hoyas shoot from behind the arc with greater accuracy than did the Tigers, Georgetown also distributed more assists per game than did Thompson's alma mater and former employer.

The result of the Hoyas' steep learning curve? Sixteen victories before Valentine's Day ... but only one conference win thereafter. Last year's club hit a wall, one that this year's edition will run right through.

Stud forward Brandon Bowman re-thought his early entry into the NBA draft and is back to score in bunches. Versatile Big East Co-Freshman of the Year Jeff Green returns to serve as a role model for young players everywhere; last year he shot 40 percent from behind the arc, 50 percent from the field and 70 percent from the charity stripe.

Senior point guard Ashanti Cook, a double-digit scorer, practiced with 7-2 center Roy Hibbert this summer, further acclimating each to the other's game. Hibbert, fast becoming a Thompson favorite, should be much more of a factor. Swingman Darrel Owens was granted an additional year of eligibility. After collecting nearly as many points in the Big East tournament and NIT as he did during the rest of the season, Owens could well be poised for a breakout campaign. Add four well-regarded recruits to the mix and the Hoyas have the makings of a Big East contender.

Look for Hoya Paranoia to make a long overdue return. (Jim McIssac / Getty Images)

Need additional evidence that what's old is new at Georgetown? Pat Ewing Jr. recently opted to play for John Thompson III. (The school from which Ewing Jr. transferred? Indiana. The hometown of KRIV, the television station that first reported Pat's relocation? Houston).

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