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Georgetown Men's Basketball, 1906-1907 to 2006-2007: A Spotlight on Ten Coaches, Ten Players, and Ten Decades of Hoops
Items in the Exhibition:
This account of an intramural clash between students in the Georgetown College Prep School (then still housed on campus) represents the earliest record of basketball activity found in the Archives. Although the clipping references plans to form a college team the following fall, it appears that this did not happen and it was not until the hiring of Maurice Joyce in 1906 as Physical Instructor that basketball took hold as a Georgetown sport.
Physical Instructor/Basketball Coach, 1906-1911. Five seasons, 32-20 (.615)
A man of many occupations – including circus performer, U.S. Marshall, and boxing coach to President Theodore Roosevelt – Maurice Joyce (1851-1939) is credited with introducing the game of basketball to Washington. Arriving in D.C. in 1892 as director and physical instructor for the Carroll Institute, a city-wide amateur athletic club, Joyce utilized basketball – invented the previous year by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts – as a conditioning tool. Naismith’s rules stipulated that a basketball team consist of nine players but Joyce began modifying these rules and dropped the number of players per side first to seven and then to five. To increase the pool of potential opponents for his teams, he worked hard to spread the new sport throughout the region.
After Georgetown University completed its new Ryan Gymnasium (now incorporated into the Royden B. Davis, S.J., Performing Arts Center) in 1906, it recruited Joyce, the preeminent fitness instructor in the region as Physical Instructor. And, of course, Joyce brought with him his enthusiasm for the game of basketball.
Ryan Gym, a gift of Ida M. Ryan of New York, opened in October 1906 and was designed to serve a student body of around 250. It was used as a gymnasium until the opening of McDonough Gym in 1951. Note the elevated running track around its perimeter which created shooting problems for the basketball players. A Hoya article of January 10, 1940, reports the track’s removal and notes: “This structure had long been a hindrance to basketball players . . . as students know, it was impossible to make a shot from the corner of the court as the ball was blocked by the overhanging balcony.”
Ryan served as a practice venue for the basketball squad for 45 years. Home games were moved there in 1914. Prior to that, home games had been played at a number of off-campus venues: Washington Light Infantry Armory (15th & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW); Convention Hall (5th & K Streets NW); Odd Fellows Hall (8th & D Streets, NW); and Arcade Rink (3134 14th Street, NW). The last home game was played in Ryan on February 21, 1931 – a 29-23 loss to the Brooklyn Knights of Columbus.
Tryouts for the varsity basketball squad were held in December 1906. A combination of College and Law School students were selected: William R. Rice, Gerhard Simon; Richard J. Downey; Harold B. Schumm; George H. Mullins; William G. Lavelle; C. McDougall Pallen; and John D. Murray.
The Georgetown Squad defeated its first varsity opponent, the University of Virginia, on February 9, 1907. The score was 22-11 in favor of Georgetown. The choice to play Virginia was possibly a symbolic one. Eighteen years earlier, in the fall of 1889, the Georgetown football squad faced and defeated Virginia in its first varsity game by a score of 34-0.
The game against Virginia was not, however, the basketball squad’s first game. On January 30, 1907, as reported in The Washington Post, they had faced and been defeated by the Shamrock basketball team of the Washington City League, 16-14.
In 1911, for the first time since the introduction of basketball of Georgetown, varsity letters were awarded to members of the squad. This action would seem to indicate that the sport was becoming firmly established on campus. Indeed, the 1911 yearbook notes that: “Now, that the five has passed the formative stage and basketball is finally recognized as an official branch of University Athletics, we may look forward to a future of excellent teams and brilliant records.” These sentiments were in stark contrast to the uncertainties of the two previous seasons during which the program’s financial deficits had fueled debates about its sustainability.
The 1910-1911 team easily won the Inter-Collegiate Championship of the District of Columbia, defeating the two other contenders, Catholic University and Gallaudet College.
Seasons Played: 1907-1908 to 1909-1910
A native of Washington, D.C., and a 1910 graduate of Georgetown’s Law School, Fred Rice was the University’s first basketball star. In fact, he transferred from George Washington University to Georgetown in 1907 after GW discontinued basketball. In an era of low scoring for basketball games, his numbers are remarkable. He scored 20 or more points in four of his first seven games and his 14.9 points per game average was matched by only one other player in the first 35 years of the sport at Georgetown. Injuries limited his final season to just 7 games. His 8.8 career score average ranks fifth all time among Georgetown letterman prior to World War II.
Basketball Coach: 1911-1914, 1921-1922. Four seasons, 43-20 (.683)
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame (Coaching)
If Maurice Joyce can be credited with establishing basketball at Georgetown, James Colliflower, a former player, should certainly be recognized for ensuring it survived in the face of deficits and squabbles between the College and the Law School. He retired from coaching in 1914 to go into business but returned, without salary, during the 1921-1922 season when then coach John O’Reilly was incapacitated by illness.
As a student, Colliflower was a forward on the basketball squad from 1907-1908 to 1909-1910 and was team captain in 1910.
A noted local businessman, Colliflower was active in civic matters and served as an alumni volunteer. The University awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Laws on June 17, 1945. His citation notes:“Year after year as time went by this devoted son became more widely known among his associates for the skills he manifested in the business world and for the integrity and the perseverance of his devotion to duty both in family and in public affairs. In the civic activities of this his native city of Washington, he won a high place in the esteem of all by his constant sense of the commonweal.”
Georgetown played Virginia on January 27, 1912. Attended by what The Washington Post characterized as “one of the largest crowds that ever watched a basketball contest in this city,” Georgetown was victorious, 34 to 16. Several members of the Georgetown squad, Guard H. Kelly Wetzell, Forward John Martin, Forward Ronayne Waldron, and Center Bill Campbell are mentioned or depicted in the cartoon. Virginia had faced Catholic the previous night and had won that game 34-20.
The creator of the cartoon, Arthur “Bugs” Baer (1876-1969), was a journalist as well as cartoonist. He began his career with the Philadelphia Public Ledger before working as a sports journalist for the Washington Times. He came to the attention of William Randolph Hearst who hired him to work as a columnist for the New York World. It was estimated that his syndicated column,“One Word Led to Another,” was regularly read by 15 million people. He was well known as a humorist and reportedly bestowed the nickname “Sultan of Swat” on Babe Ruth. Milton Berle once confessed that, when he needed new material, he would invite Mr. Baer to spend an hour or so with him at Toots Shor’s bar in New York City.
It seems probable that this was one of a series of posters marketed to colleges, with the colors of each individual school (for Georgetown, naturally, blue and gray) added by hand. Women did not actually begin playing basketball at Georgetown until 1952, when the Women’s Athletic Association was established by a group of Nursing School students.
Georgetown played its home games at the Arcade Rink (also known as the Arcadia and the Arcade Auditorium), 3134 14th Street, NW, during the 1911-1912, 1912-1913, 1913-1914 and 1927-1928 seasons.
The Georgetown squad compiled a 10-6 record for this season, 8-1 at home and 2-5 on the road.
Seasons Played: 1910-1911 to 1913-1914
One of the first “walk-ons” to the Georgetown program, Waldron was the team’s leading scorer in 1913 (when he averaged 10.5 points per game) and also in 1914. He was chosen as captain for these years, the first Georgetown captain to serve in consecutive seasons. He ended his playing career with a combined home court record of 35-5.
Basketball Coach: 1914-1921, 1923-1927. Eleven seasons, 87-47 (.649)
The name of John D. O’Reilly was synonymous with Georgetown athletics for nearly two decades. Known as the “Silver Fox,” he oversaw some of Georgetown’s greatest early triumphs in basketball, including an unprecedented 52 home game unbeaten streak which began in 1918, and his teams consistently ranked highly among college teams in the East. As well as serving as head coach for basketball, he also coached track and baseball.
Illness interrupted his tenure in 1921, when he was hospitalized for “nervous prostration,” but he returned to coaching in 1923 and headed the basketball program until 1927 and the baseball and track programs until 1931. In 1930, he was unanimously elected president of the District of Columbia Association of the Amateur Athletic Union.
A page-long tribute to him in the 1926 yearbook concludes: But certainly the ultimate cause of the respectful popularity in which he is held by every Georgetown man is that instinct which prompts him to say to his teams: “Go in and play a hard game; play a winning game if you can; but at least play a clean and upright game.”
Featured in a University calendar
Seasons Played: 1916-1917 to1919-1920
Team Captain: 1919
Fees was among Georgetown’s great early stars, despite standing only 5-6. He was the nation’s leading scorer in 1917-18 and on, 2/15/1918, he became the first Georgetown player to score 30 points in a game, in a 52-25 win over Gallaudet. In all, he played in 47 games and scored 804 points for a 17.1 per game average. His career total is the highest of any Georgetown player until 1948 and his career average still ranks as the fourth-highest overall in GU history.
Over the previous two seasons, the Georgetown team had been recognized as one of the finest teams in the East, having won 22 of 24 games. The 1921 squad, rich in talent and experience, ended its season with a record of ten straight wins and three defeats. It amassed a total of 465 points to its opponents’ 290.
Basketball Coach: 1931-1938. Seven seasons, 53-76 (.411)
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame (Basketball)
Less than two years after his graduation from the College, former player Fred Mesmer took over coaching responsibilities after the brief, one year tenure of Coach John Colrick. One of the youngest men to coach a major sport at the University, he combined his first two years of coaching with attendance at Georgetown’s Law School. Under Mesmer, the Hoyas won 64 percent of their home games but only 23 percent of away games and the team managed only two winning seasons. The highlights of Mesmer’s tenure probably came in 1936 with two victories over a top-ranked NYU squad: one on February 7, which ended a NYU streak of victories in 46 out of its 47 previous games, and one on December 30 in Georgetown’s first game at Madison Square Garden. Mesmer left coaching in 1938 to devote himself to his law practice full time.
With a 36-34 upset victory, Coach Mesmer’s squad (the Mesmermen, as The Hoya termed them), broke a winning streak by the Violets that extended over 20 games. New York was considered the most powerful college team in the country and this was only their second defeat in 48 games. The game was played on February 7 at Tech High School before a sold-out crowd of 4,000.
In 1967, Jack Hagerty (Georgetown’s Athletic Director from 1949 to 1969 and head football coach from 1932 to 1948) recalled that, since the evening that the NYU game was played was also the evening of Georgetown’s Junior Prom, the NYU basketball group received a written invitation to attend the Prom as guests of the Junior Prom Committee and arrived with suitcases containing formal attire. The Hoya noted that the dance which began at 10 PM “was one of the finest Proms in many years” but failed to mention if any NYU representatives actually attended.
This photo appeared in the 1936 yearbook with the following caption: Melee under the basket as Harry Bassin, high scoring guard, tallies two points against NYU’s crack five.
Seasons Played: 1935-1936 to1937-1938
Jersey Number: 84
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame (Basketball/Baseball)
Bassin scored in every game during his sophomore season, including a team high 11 points during the February 7, 1936 upset of NYU, and led all scorers with a 9.0 per game average. He was named to the first team All-Eastern Intercollegiate Conference Team for 1937-1938. A first baseman in baseball, Bassin was signed by the New York Yankees in 1938 and played in their farm system until 1943.
Elmer Ripley’s first season back at Georgetown after a nine year absence ended with the Hoya squad, captained by Joseph Murphy, tying for the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball Conference (EIBC) title with Carnegie Tech. This title was Georgetown’s first for league play since it won the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Association title in 1912.
Basketball Coach: 1927-1929; 1938-1943; 1946-1949. Ten seasons, 133-82 (.619)
Member, Basketball Hall of Fame
Born in the year that basketball was invented (1891), Elmer Ripley is a legendary figure in the sport and is known both for his playing and his coaching. As a player, he was on the American team which won the World Championship at the 1914-1915 San Francisco World’s Fair, he won a title with the New York Celtics, and he was voted one of the ten best pros from 1909 to 1926.
He began his coaching career with Wagner College in 1922. In 1927, Ripley was hired to coach the Hoyas. He had an immediate impact and his first squad won 12 of its 13 games. He left in 1929 to coach at Yale but returned in 1938. In 1939, Georgetown won a share of the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball Conference (EIBC) and in 1943 they advanced to the NCAA finals. After the University suspended basketball because of World War II, Ripley moved to Notre Dame where he secured an NCAA berth in 1946. He then returned to coach at Georgetown until 1949.
Ripley continued his college coaching career after leaving Georgetown for the third and final time. He also served as the Israeli Olympic team coach in 1956 and the Canadian Olympic team coach in 1960. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973.
The year of 1940-1941 was, without question, an exceptional one for Georgetown athletics. Hoya teams were nationally ranked in four sports: football, track, golf, and basketball. This was the first time that a Georgetown basketball team had been nationally ranked and the squad did not disappoint, compiling a 16-4 record. Fifteen of their twenty games were played on the road and eleven of these ended in Hoya victories. Hopes were high on campus that the team would be selected to the Sportswriter’s Invitational Tournament, now referred to as the National Invitation Tournament (NIT.) But these hopes were dashed by a 53-42 defeat at the hands of Fordham on February 28, 1941.
Expectations were not high for the 1942-1943 squad. All but one member of the previous season’s team had left for wartime service. That left a team composed of six sophomores, two freshmen, and only one senior. There were suggestions that the “Kiddie Korps,” as the team was known, might not even complete its schedule and there were certainly no expectations that it would have a winning season. By the end of the season, however, the Hoyas were 19-4 and entertaining invitations to both the NIT and the NCAA tournament. The NCAA bid was accepted and Georgetown won its way through to the final with a 53-49 victory over DePaul in the Eastern Regional game on March 25, 1943. They faced Western Champions, Wyoming, in the final five days later. The score: Wyoming 46, Georgetown 34.
The squad pictured includes, on the front row, second from the left, Henry Hyde, a reserve who played in only 11 games but whose defensive play in the DePaul game helped Georgetown to the finals. Hyde became an attorney and served as an Illinois congressman for over 30 years.
This program was signed and donated to the Archives by Charles D. Dimmock (LL.B. 1924) in 1964. It is inscribed to Tommie O’Keefe (BSS 1950) who coached Georgetown from 1960-1966. Note Mr. Dimmock’s comment in reference to the bruised figure on the cover: “No Hoya ever wore this expression.”
This cartoon first appeared on March 29, 1943, the day before Georgetown met Wyoming in the NCAA final. Georgetown had not been favored at any point during the NCAA tournament, as this cartoon indicates. Just before the tip-off with DePaul in the Eastern Regional game, one prominent coach was quoted as saying “DePaul will name its own score.” The Washington Post noted the following day that the “crunch, crunch, crunch [sound] Washingtonians heard this morning was the New York sportswriters, the big-shots coaches, etc., eating a lot of words after Georgetown’s victory over DePaul, a real coach’s triumph.”
The cartoonist, Jim Berryman (1902-1971), began his career as a sports cartoonist. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for his political cartoon, "All Set for a Super-Secret Session in Washington.” His father, Clifford Berryman, was the creator of the "Teddy bear" and himself a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist.
Displayed courtesy of the Athletics Department
Seasons Played: 1943-1944
Jersey Number: 13
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame (Football)
Duffey was a member of the famed Hoya football teams of the early 1940s, as well as a guard on the basketball team. He also excelled in the classroom as a student in the College of Arts and Sciences. After graduation, Duffey joined the military to fight in World War II. While in the Army, he wrote back regularly to friends on campus. In one of his last letters, he said: “My outfit has been consistently in battle since they landed on the beach on D-Day. Since I have joined them, we have met the enemy in France, Belgium, and now in Germany. We have an opportunity to attend mass at least twice a week. Last Sunday, mass was held on a German pillbox made of tons of concrete. These occasions give me hope and the comfort to do the job that is expected of me over here.”
Robert A. Duffey was killed in combat in Germany in late 1944. The University's scholar-athlete award is named in his honor. It is presented annually to the senior who best embodies the Jesuit educational philosophy of combining athletic achievement with academic excellence.
Basketball Coach: 1945-1946. One season, 11-9 (.550)
Engles, the only player-coach in Georgetown's basketball history, assumed coaching duty for the 1945-1946 season when Elmer Ripley was unable to return from Notre Dame. Apart from Engles, who had played forward on the 1940-1941 and 1941-1942 squads, no other Hoya player had varsity experience and none returned to the team when Ripley came back as coach the next year.
In a letter written to “Rip” (for whom he had played in the 1940-1941 and 1941-1942 seasons) from “Somewhere in England,” Engles describes how, even while serving in the military, he has been able to continue playing basketball: “. . . our regimental team won the division championship and ended the season with thirteen wins and two losses. Scored 21 points in the final play-off game and must of [sic] had a season average of about 14 points per game.” Staff Sergeant Engles was awarded the Purple Heart for his war service.
Basketball Coach: 1952-1956. Four seasons, 49-49 (.500)
Alma Mater: Washington & Jefferson, 1938
Member, Basketball Hall of Fame
Buddy Jeannette came to Georgetown following a successful NBA career both as a player and a coach. From 1938 to 1948, he was considered as the top backcourt player in professional basketball. In 1947, he became the first player-coach to win a professional championship with the Baltimore Bullets of the ABL, a feat he repeated the next year with the Bullets as part of the newly named BAA.
Jeannette’s career at Georgetown began strongly, so much so that, on January 28, 1953, the Top Twenty poll included one vote for Georgetown – the University’s first national poll vote in the post-war era. His 1952-1953 squad ended the season with a 14-7 record and landed a NIT berth. However, Jeannette had less success in subsequent seasons, with teams that were depleted by injuries and suspensions for disciplinary reasons. At one point during the 1953-1954 season, he was asked what he was going to do in the face of his player misfortunes. “Do?” he responded, “I’ll do the best I can, that’s all. If they don’t like it, they can find another boy.” At the end of February 1956, the University announced that it would not renew his contract.
McDonough Gym opened in December 1951, allowing home games to be played on campus for the first time since the 1930-1931 season. The first game played on December 7, 1951 against Fordham, ended with a score of 57-50 in Fordham’s favor.
There had been a pressing need since the 1930s for a new gymnasium on campus to replace the outdated facilities in Ryan Gym. Initial plans had placed the new gym next to the old but that concept was eventually dropped because of noise, parking, and access issues and an alternative site, south of the Observatory, was selected. The Gym is named for Vincent S. McDonough, S.J. who was Director of Athletics from 1916 to 1928. Father “Mac” was both revered and feared by students. In addition to serving as Director of Athletics, he was also Prefect of Discipline and a student counselor. When asked what he would most like to honor his 25th anniversary as a priest, he replied, “You give the boys a new gym and I’ll be happy.” A few days later, on September 3, 1939, he was found dead in his room, beside a radio broadcasting news of the declarations of war by Britain and France.
Georgetown, as was the situation in 1941, needed to beat Fordham to secure an invitation to the NIT and, on February 28, 1953, they did just that, by a score of 74-63. Fordham had gone into the game with a 17-6 record and a berth in the NCAA tournament. By March5, 500 tickets to the NIT first-round game had been sold and 400 more had been ordered by Georgetown Athletic Director Jack Hagerty.
Georgetown met Louisville in the first round of the NIT in front of an audience of 17, 838, including over 1,000 students who came from Georgetown for the game. The Cardinals proved too strong for the Hoyas and won by a score of 92-79. Coach Jeannette was quoted in the local press as saying: “I’d like to say one thing about my boys – I think they did damned well getting this far. To me, it was a highly successful season . . . When I say it was a successful season, I don’t mean to toot my own horn. I just mean that the boys did their very best; they gave me everything they had. That’s all I’d ask of any boy or any ball club.”
The total cost of taking the team to play at Madison Square Garden in the first round of the NIT was $644.02.
Home Town/High School: Bayonne, NJ/Sweeney HS
Seasons Played: 1953-1954 to 1956-1957
Jersey Number: 5
A consistent scorer and rebounder during Hoyas' lean years in mid-1950's, Buehler had received collegiate offers from 16 institutions but chose to attend Georgetown. During the 1953-1954 season, he averaged 18.2 points per game and set a single season scoring record for a Georgetown player with 511 points. In 1955, he was awarded the Francis “Reds” Daly Memorial Trophy which is given to the most outstanding player on the basketball team. The leading scorer of the 1950s with a total of 1,134 points, he ranks as 9th all-time in career scoring average and 15th in career rebound average.
1960-1966: Six seasons, 82-60 (.578)
Alma Mater: Georgetown, 1950
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame (Basketball)
Tom O’Keefe served as freshman basketball coach for three seasons, before moving up to replace retiring Tom Nolan as varsity head coach in 1960. Under his leadership, Georgetown began to win more consistently. He had no losing seasons but also achieved no post-season bids. O'Keefe, a part-time coach, returned to business concerns following the 1966 season. He said he felt he had contributed to the development of the program by bringing “many fine lads” to the University. “I shared in their disappointments when we lost and shared in their happiness when we won.”
A 1950 graduate of the College, O’Keefe was a standout player from 1946-1950 and was the first Hoya to exceed 1,000 points.
Kneeling, left to right: Seniors Joe Mazelin, Jim Christy, Captain Chuck Devlin. Standing, left to right: Coach Tom O’Keefe, Jake Gibbons, Joe Franz, Tom Carroll, Ed Solano, Dave Philbin, Jim Brown, John Prendergast, Jim Jones, Owen Gillen, Trainer Joe Kuczo, Manager Dave Stapleton.
Upset victories over LaSalle, NYU, and #1 ranked Loyola-Chicago formed the highlights of the 1963-1964 season, the most successful under Coach O’Keefe. The Hoyas ended the year with a 15-10 record, the best since 1951-1952.
On December 27, 1963, Georgetown faced reigning NCAA Champions Loyola-Chicago in the opening round of the Quaker City tournament in Philadelphia. That night, Georgetown upset a #1 ranked team for the first time, with a 69-58 win. The Hoya termed this victory “near unbelievable.” Coach O’Keefe stated that: “Beating Loyola was a tremendous thing for the school. I think it is going to mean something to Georgetown for years to come. It’s been a long while since we’ve done anything big in any sport. After the victory over Loyola, I received more than 70 telegrams from alumni all over the country – Los Angeles, New Orleans, Omaha, you name it. Of course, the big thing to us was the 20-page wire we received before the Loyola game. It was signed by the entire senior class.”
Home Town/High School: Elizabeth, NJ/St. Peter's Prep
Seasons Played: 1962-1963, 1964-1965, 1965-1966
Jersey Number: 4
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame
Jim “Boo” Barry was Georgetown’s leading scorer and rebounder for the 1962-1963 and 1964-1965 seasons and was the Daly MVP Award winner in 1963 and 1965. Fourth in all-time scoring average, he holds the record for most points scored in a single game (46).
Profile of Jim Barry, bottom right.
Notice also the photograph and profile of another All-American from Providence (right-side column, second down) who was later to contribute greatly to the Georgetown basketball program.
On February 27, 1965, Jim Barry set a school scoring record with 46 points against Fairleigh Dickinson – the record remains unbroken. Georgetown won the game 91-70 and ended a seven-game losing streak.
1966-1972: Six Seasons, 69-80 (.466)
Alma Mater: Boston College, 1959
After a 56 day-search in 1966, thirty-year old Jack Magee, assistant to Boston College coach Bob Cousy, was hired as basketball coach. Magee brought the Hoyas back into the national spotlight with a 1970 NIT bid. The record for the 1969-1970 season was 18-7, the Hoyas best regular season record since 1946-1947. Magee said that he saw “possibilities of being a better team [in subsequent seasons]. You don’t anticipate people getting worse.” However, the program went into a free fall and, in 1972, compiled a 3-23 record, a performance that The Hoya described as “incredible horror show.” Magee contended that the school did not spend enough money to remain competitive in major-league basketball and, with his performance under scrutiny by the athletic advisory board, resigned.
With an 18-7 record, the 1969-1970 Hoyas were only the third squad in Georgetown history to go into a post-season tournament. Official confirmation of the bid came from Andrew Laska, a member of the NIT selection committee and father of Georgetown Guard Michael Laska.
On 12/18/1969, Georgetown had played Jacksonville University at Swisher Gym. Play was halted in the first half, when in near riot conditions and after two bench-emptying fist fights, Coach Magee kept his team off the court. With Georgetown trailing #18 Jacksonville, 41-26, the game was declared a forfeit win for Jacksonville. Two months later, the NCAA ruled it an “interrupted game,” helping Georgetown secure the NIT bid with only six losses.
Pete Maravich (# 23 ) is pictured in the left side photograph with his trademark droopy socks. Pictured from the Hoya squad: # 34 Mike Laska; #42 Mike Laughna; and #44 Art White.
The Hoyas were selected to play the Pete Maravich-led LSU Tigers in the NIT. Although Maravich had scored 1304 points that season (more than any Georgetown player had scored in their career), the Hoyas refused to be intimidated by him. A banner displayed at a McDonough Gym pep rally two days before the game expressed this sentiment: “Pistol Pete is a paper tiger.” The combination of a special defense (the triangle tracer), a 28 point effort by Art White, and an impressive defensive performance by Mike Laska, enabled Georgetown to hold Maravich to only twenty points (his average was 44.2.) But LSU eked out an agonizing (for Hoya fans) 83-82 victory.
Prior to the LSU game Coach Magee was quoted in The Washington Post as saying: “I’m trying to be lovable. I want everyone to feel sorry for us.” He did go on to add: “We don’t anticipate looking bad; we anticipate winning. I think we can beat them. Eight other teams did, didn’t they?”
Home Town/High School: Hillsdale, NJ/Don Bosco Prep
Seasons Played: 1967-1968 to 1969-1970
Jersey Number: 54
Member, Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame
Adrion was elected team co-captain for the 1969-1970 season. He was the winner of the Daly MVP Award in 1969 (despite missing the last five games of that season after suffering torn cartilage in his right knee) and in 1970. The leading scorer in 1968, he was also the leading rebounder in 1968 and 1969. He is in the top 10 for all-time scoring average and career rebound average and holds the record for most rebounds in a game, 29. This record came in a December 2, 1968 game against American. Adrion’s 40 point, 29 rebound effort helped the Hoyas to a 85-78 win and stands as one of the great performances in Georgetown history.
After the game which Georgetown won 69-68 to keep their NIT hopes alive, Adrion commented: “We thought Rutgers would be more like NYU. We didn’t expect 63 percent shooting. Our defense, though, wasn’t what it should have been.” Adrion scored 14 points in the game and did admit to being “a little on edge” due to his closeness to the 1000 point mark. “I wanted to get it over with.”
A seven-member screening committee chaired by Charles Deacon, then president of Hoyas Unlimited and acting director of admissions, reviewed more than 50 applications before recommending Coach Thompson who was only the seventh African American hired as a head basketball coach at a predominantly white college.
Coach Thompson had won several championships as a player, including the 1963 NIT Championship with Providence College. As a professional player, he was a member of two world champion Boston Celtic teams. He began his coaching career at St. Anthony’s High School in Northeast D.C.
John Thompson at the March 14, 1972 press conference to announce his appointment as basketball coach. Also pictured, Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon and University President R. J. Henle, S.J.
Fr. Henle introduced Coach Thompson by saying: “John has proven ability as a coach, manager, inspirer, and leader of young people. He is a man of high personal ideals any man would be proud to work with. It is important for Georgetown that we attain an excellent program which is consistent with our academic ideals.”
An 18 foot shot by freshman Derrick Jackson (#22) with two seconds left gave the Hoyas an improbable 62-61 win over host West Virginia in the ECAC South final. The unexpected chance to win came when West Virginia missed a foul shot with 10 seconds to go. Hoya Ed Hopkins grabbed the rebound and tossed a half-court pass to Bill Thomas, who spotted Jackson open to the left of the basket. Jackson faked a West Virginia defender before making the winning shot.
The ECAC-South title entitled the Hoyas to their first NCAA bid in 32 years. It would be the first of 20 NCAA appearances under Coach Thompson. The Georgetown squad was a young one – there were no seniors on the roster and of Thompson’s top ten players, four were freshmen and two were sophomores.
Pictured from the Hoya squad: #22 Derrick Jackson; #52 Ed Hopkins; #12 Mike Riley; #34 Mike MacDermott; and #14 Bill Lynn
Georgetown faced Dan Roundfield and the Central Michigan Chippewas in opening round play in the Alabama Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, on March 15. Their dream of advancing to the Midwest Regional semifinals ended with a hotly disputed foul call made at the buzzer. With the score tied, Central Michigan converted two free throws to win 77-75. Afterwards Coach Thompson said: “I told my kids to keep their heads up. We had a good season.”
Kneeling L-R: Assistant Trainer Doug Huffman, Head Trainer Steve Gundersen, Mike MacDermott, Bill Thomas, Craig Esherick, Mike Riley, Derrick Jackson, Jon Smith, Manager Mike Jenifer, Manager Norm Washington, Assistant Coach Bill Stein and Assistant Coach Dwight Datcher. Standing L-R: Greg Brooks, Mark Gallagher, Tom Scates, Garry Wilson, Ed Hopkins, Bill Lynn, Felix Yeoman, Al Dutch, Steve Martin, Merlin Wilson and Head Coach John Thompson
This squad ended their season with a 21-7 record and earned Georgetown’s second straight NCAA bid, firmly establishing Georgetown as a rising basketball power.
Home Town/High School: Washington, DC/St. Anthony HS
Season Played: 1972-1973 to 1975-1976
Jersey Number: 44
Merlin Wilson was the first major recruit of the John Thompson-era. Coached by Thompson at St. Anthony’s, he (along with team mate Jonathan Smith), was named as a senior to The Washington Post’s All-Metropolitan Squad. After he signed to Georgetown, Coach Thompson commented: “He’s an exceptionally mobile big man. He’ll be the key person in the pivot and he makes an outlet pass on the fast break as well as anyone I’ve seen and that includes the pros.”
Wilson ranks second all-time in career rebounds and first in rebound average (11.4) and is one of only three Georgetown players to average in double figures for scoring and rebounding. His statistics are even more remarkable in light of the fact he played his final two years with debilitating back trouble which made it hard for him to raise his arms.
Photographed before an exhibition game between the Chinese national team and Georgetown.
After President Nixon and Premier Chou En-lai signed the Shanghai Communique in 1972, exchanges between China and the U.S. developed in the fields of science, medicine, trade, culture, and even sports. The National Committee on U.S. China Relations (NCUSR) facilitated official exchanges under the framework of the Shanghai Communique and co-sponsored a five game tour of the U.S. by the men’s and women’s Chinese basketball teams in 1978.
In their fourth U.S. game, the Chinese defeated the Hoyas, 75-69. Mu Tieh-chu, listed by the Chinese at 7 feet 2 inches but estimated to be somewhat taller, was dubbed “The Great Wall of China” by U.S. players.
On July 21, 1981, it was announced that Georgetown would play 12 home games of its 1981-1982 season at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, a venue that could accommodate over 19,000. McDonough Gym, by contrast, could seat 4,400. To ensure that students could easily attend the games at the Cap Centre, all student season ticket holders were eligible for a free bus shuttle service to and from Landover.
The Georgetown Voice noted in a September 2, 1981 editorial that; “Of course, there are drawbacks [to the move]. One can no longer wander out of Lauinger five minutes before a game, but the increased attention from the national press would have made it impossible for many students to get a seat at McDonough at all. Thanks to seven straight winning seasons and 1981 recruitment that is unsurpassed anywhere, the whole country is expecting a lot from Georgetown and everybody is already watching.”
The Hoyas advanced to the 1982 NCAA finals in authoritative fashion. They overwhelmed second-seeded and #4-ranked Oregon State in the Western Regional Final, shooting 74.4 percent from the field (29 for 39) – a shooting mark that is a Georgetown single game record and is the third best in NCAA tournament history – and winning 69-45. They then faced and defeated Louisville in a superbly played semi-final, 50-46, and, on March 29, 1982, played North Carolina in the Louisiana Superdome, in what some have called the greatest of all NCAA finals.
Georgetown players pictured: on the left, against Louisville, #33 Patrick Ewing, # 20 Fred Brown and #32 Eric Smith; and on the right, against North Carolina, #21Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, #33 Patrick Ewing, #40 Mike Hancock and #32 Eric Smith.
With 16 seconds remaining in the final, North Carolina took a 63-62 lead on a Michael Jordan basket. The Hoyas had one last chance to win. However, Guard Fred Brown threw a pass that was intercepted by Tar Heel James Worthy and the game was over. Coach Thompson responded by hugging the disconsolate Brown. Interest in playing for Georgetown soared after the championship game, with many potential players stating that the reason they wanted to play for Georgetown was the way that Coach Thompson had treated Brown. Brown came to see the pass as “a blessing in disguise.” He was quoted in an April 3, 1988 Washington Post article as saying: “When I threw that pass away, it afforded me the opportunity to realize that people still supported me, that life went on . . .”
Men’s Basketball Championship, second place team, commemorative award.
Three days after losing the championship game, the team returned to campus where they were met by a cheering crowd of between 3,500-5000 fans. Coach Thompson addressed the crowd and said: “In order for any program to be successful, it has to have some community spirit, and you reflect that today . . .” He later commented: “We fell a little short of our season goal – the national title – but it was a fantastic season. Our kids aren’t losers and they have nothing to feel bad about. They worked hard all year and that’s all a coach can ask of his players.”
“ . . . His classroom is first of all a basketball court and his subject a game. But the real tools of his trade are the blending of fifteen young people into a working unit, the jazz-like improvisation which his game demands, the discipline required to work body and mind together into a dance as intricate as any ever invented by the mind of man, and finally the beauty of the body’s movement which must condition the soul. It is a teaching as old as the games of Greece, and its goal is the hard moral base of citizenship . . .”
Written by President Timothy S. Healy, S.J., the citation contains changes added in his hand.
On April 2, 1984, Georgetown met Houston in the National Championships in the Seattle Kingdome. The 84-75 Georgetown victory was a triumph of teamwork, domination, and intimidation. Making use of his team’s remarkable depth, Coach Thompson was able to keep sending in fresh players and Houston was unable to counter them. Five Hoyas scored in double figures: Reggie Williams scored 19; David Wingate16; Michael Graham 14; Michael Jackson 11; and Patrick Ewing 10. Ewing also led the team in rebounding with nine boards and was named the tournament MVP. Houston Center Akeem Olajuwon commented after the game: “They do everything a great team should do. They don’t care who takes the shots, who scores. That’s the difference. They aren’t a selfish team.”
St. John’s had beaten Georgetown earlier in the season, costing the Hoyas their top position in the polls. This rematch, therefore, between the #1 ranked Redmen and #2 Hoyas was highly anticipated. St. John’s head coach, Lou Carnesca, attributed the success of his 24-1 team to a “lucky” sweater which he always wore to games and the power of the sweater was much hyped in the New York press. Before the February 28 game, Coach Thompson was greeted with a appreciative roar from the St. John's crowd when he opened his jacket to reveal a t-shirt with an identical pattern to Carnesca’s sweater. Whether boosted by Coach Thompson’s apparel or not, the game ended in a 85-69 Hoya victory. Patrick Ewing scored 20 points and had nine rebounds and six blocks, while Reggie Williams posted 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Arguably Georgetown's greatest living athlete, Ewing holds Georgetown career records for most rebounds, most free throws attempted, most blocked shots, and most games played. He is second all time in scoring with 2184 points. Coach Thompson summed his play up by saying: “He [Ewing] can rise to the occasion, lifting the entire team by his effort.”
Patrick Ewing (AB 1985)
Home Town/High School: Cambridge, MA/Rindge & Latin HS
Seasons Played: 1981-1982,1982-1983,1983-1984,1984-1985
Jersey Number: 33
National Player Of The Year, 1985
Consensus All-America, 1983, 1984, 1985. 2nd Team All-America, 1982
Big East Player Of The Year, 1984, 1985
First team All-Big East, 1983, 1984, 1985
Second team All-Big East, 1982
Big East Defensive Player Of The Year, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985
In 1985, Ewing graduated and was the first choice in the NBA draft. The New York Knicks made him the highest paid rookie with a contract that was to pay $16 million over five to eight years. On the Sunday after the draft, the Knicks received 1,000 ticket requests. Ewing spent 15 years with Knicks. He averaged 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds with the team, becoming their all-time leading scorer with 23,665 points. He also set team records for most games played (1,039), most rebounds (10,759), most steals (1,061), and most blocked shots (2,758.)
Ewing the Olympian: Big East Conference 1984-1985 Media Guide (pictured with Chris Mullen of St. John’s) and Inside Sports, June 1992 (depicted far left with his teammates)
In 1983-1984, Ewing endured nearly ten months of continuous basketball: pre-season practice; regular season play; NCAA tournament; Olympic tryouts and practice; and Olympic play at the LA Games. When he won Olympic gold as a member of the Bobby Knight coached U.S. team, he became only the sixth American to win both the NCAA and the Olympics in the same year, the others being: Kansas’ Clyde Lovellete (1952); San Francisco’s Bill Russell and K.C. Jones (1956); Ohio State’s Jerry Lucas (1960) and Indiana’s Quinn Buckner (1976). Asked in 1985 what accomplishment made him proudest, he answered: “Fulfilling the promise I made to my mother and graduating from Georgetown University.”
In 1992, at the Barcelona Games, Ewing won a second Olympic gold medal as part of the “Dream Team,” the first U.S. Olympic basketball team to include NBA players. He is the only Hoya to win two Olympic golds.
Like Coach Colliflower in 1945, Coach Thompson was awarded an honorary degree in 1986, the same year he was selected as Olympic coach for the U.S. men’s basketball team. The citation notes that he was honored for “ . . . intelligence and integrity, for making Georgetown proud in victory and defeat (but mostly in victory!) . . .”
On January 14, 1989, Coach Thompson staged a protest over changes to freshman eligibility rules that had been approved at the NCAA convention. He walked off the court just before the Hoyas' home game against Boston College and then refused to coach the team's next game at Providence. The changes to the eligibility rules meant that athletic scholarships would be denied to freshmen who failed to qualify for athletic eligibility under the academic standards of proposition 48 (which required incoming freshmen to have a 2.0 average on a 4.0 scale and a minimum score of 700 on the SAT.). Before the rule change, such players could have scholarships but could not play as freshmen. Coach Thompson explained that: “This is my way of brining attention to a rule a lot of people were not aware of – one which will affect a great many individuals. I did it to bring attention to the issue in the hopes of getting [NCAA members] to take another look at what they’ve done, and if they feel it unjust, change the rule.” His protest focused national attention on issues of economic and educational discrimination. The NCAA membership reversed the rule change at its 1990 convention.
One of the first academic coordinators in the nation, Miss Fenlon was the first person Coach Thompson hired when he came to Georgetown. She worked for 27 years and retired in July 1999, six months after the Coach. While she was at Georgetown, 97 percent of the players who stayed at the school for four years graduated. Miss Fenlon characterized her job in this way: “It’s just common sense. It’s just making sure that, because we are asking the students to spend so much time in practice, traveling and at games, that we check to make sure they are doing what they should academically. Because we create so many distractions we need to balance them and refocus the student athletes on education. That’s what they’re here for.”
Patrick Ewing has commented that: “Miss Fenlon played a major role in my development. When a kind word was needed, she said it, but if a strong word was needed she said that too. She was like a mother in some ways–she cared enough to tell you what you needed to hear, not just what you wanted to hear.”
In the 1990s, four players in particular (three centers and a guard) symbolized Georgetown basketball: Dikembe Mutombo (who played 1989-1991); Alonzo Mourning (1989-1992); Othella Harrington (1993-1996); and Allen Iverson (1995-1996.) All four went on to have careers in the NBA.
Mutombo came to Georgetown from the Congo and majored in linguistics and diplomacy. As a senior, he was an honorable mention All-America and also the winner of the Daly MVP Award. After graduation, he went to the NBA where he played for Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and, currently, for Houston. He was the NBA’s first four-time recipient of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001.) Identified in 2005 by FOXSports.com as the most generous professional athlete, he is noted for his humanitarian work, including the building of a hospital in his homeland. “Because of the NBA, I’ve got a lot of doors open to me. So I have to let a lot of people in,” he has said.
Mourning was invited to 1988 Olympic trials and was a Consensus All-America in 1992, Big East Player of The Year also in 1992, Big East Defensive Player of the year in 1989, 1990, and 1992, and All-Big East in 1990 and 1992. He led the nation as a freshman with 169 blocks, still a team record. In a 13-year NBA career, he has appeared in 736 games and has made 643 starts. He has averaged 18.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.90 blocks, 1.3 assists and 32.6 minutes while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, 24.7 percent from three-point range and 69.9 percent from the foul line. He has scored in double figures on 630 occasions. On June 20, 2006, his eights points, six rebounds and five blocks helped the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship.
He formed “Zo’s Fund For Life” during the 2000-2001 season in an effort to raise money for kidney research. On December 19, 2003, he had kidney transplant surgery. Like Mutombo, he has been recognized for community work. Among his awards, the National Urban League’s Outstanding Community Service Award in 2003, the NBA Good Guy Award from The Sporting News in 2002, and USA Weekend Magazine’s 9th Annual Most Caring Athlete Award in October of 2001 (shared with Andre Agassi.)
Harrington was a Parade H.S. All-American in 1992 and Big East Rookie of the Year in 1993. He ranks as Georgetown’s 5th all-time career scorer (1,839 points) and 4th all-time rebounder (983). He started all 132 games of his Georgetown career and shot 55 percent or better from field for all four seasons. As a senior, he helped the Hoyas reach "Elite Eight" of NCAA Tournament. Drafted by the Houston Rockets as the 30th pick in the 1996 NBA draft, Harrington has played with the Vancouver Grizzlies, New York Knicks, and the Chicago Bulls. He signed with the Charlotte Bobcats on July 19, 2006.
At Georgetown, Iverson started 66 of 67 career games. He was selected as the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and led the team in scoring for both of his seasons. As a freshman, he was named the Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging a team-leading 20.4 points and 4.5 assists. As a sophomore, he led the Hoyas in scoring (25.0 ppg), assists (4.7 apg) and steals (3.35 spg) and was named First Team All-America by the Associated Press. He holds the record for most points and steals in a single season and also for career scoring average. He was the first player picked in the 1996 NBA draft.
After ten seasons with Philadelphia, he is considered by many to be among the greatest guards of his generation. He has career averages of 28.0 points (3rd all-time in NBA history), 6.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.34 steals per game in 41.7 minutes. Named the 2001 NBA MVP, he has scored 19,115 career points and ranks 39th among the all-time NBA scoring leaders. He has led the NBA in scoring four times (30.9 ppg in 2004-05, 31.4 ppg in 2001-02, 31.3 ppg in 2000-01 and 26.8 ppg in 1998-99) and in steals for a record three-straight seasons (2.74 in 2002-03, 2.80 in 2001-02 and 2.51 in 2000-01.) He had a NBA high 225 steals in 2002-03, setting a single-season franchise record.
In 1997, the Hoyas moved to their new home, the 20,600 seat MCI Center, now named the Verizon Center. The MCI Center opened on December 2, 1997. The following night, the Hoyas lost to Villanova, 73-69. When asked about the facility after the game, Coach Thompson said: “I love it. We loved it so much we watched it the whole game.”
After 26 and a half seasons, John Thompson resigned as head men’s basketball coach in January 1999. He had led Georgetown teams to 20 NCAA Tournaments, seven Big East Championships, three Final Four Appearances, and one National Championship. At the press conference to announce the resignation, held in McDonough Gym on January 8, Georgetown University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., commented: “When we think of John Thompson, the word vision comes to mind because John built a men’s basketball program that is second to none. The word excellence comes to mind because John demanded nothing less of himself and his student-athletes on and off the court. The word commitment comes to mind. John Thompson never swayed from his dedication as an educator, his love of basketball and his desire not only to win but more importantly to shape young men into winners in life. But there is one word that will always resonate in my mind, and that is integrity. He is a man whose beliefs are not for sale and whose advocacy of those beliefs is a welcome change for American Society. He is a large-hearted leader who sees the link between basketball, education, opportunity and justice.” In 1999, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
When John Thompson III followed his father’s career path to become head men’s basketball coach at Georgetown in 2004, he and his father joined 18 other sets of fathers and sons who have both coached at the collegiate level. In addition, John Thompson III and his brother, Ronny, a former Georgetown player and assistant coach and now coach at Ball State, are one of only 11 pairs of brothers who have become college coaches.
A familiar number and name, #33 Patrick Ewing, Jr. is the son of former Georgetown and NBA great Patrick Ewing. He transferred from Indiana University and sat out the 2005-2206 season due to NCAA rules.
Curated by Lynn Conway, University Archivist