If Patrick Ewing, Georgetown's freshman center and college basketball's new Secretary of Defense, doesn't become another Washington monument in the next few months, he can only blame his own shaky hands, wayward elbows and/or hot temper. To put it another way, his immaturity, physically and emotionally. And if it seems odd to say that Ewing, a 7-footer, isn't grown-up, consider that last Saturday afternoon he stumbled over his own feet during the player introductions for the Hoyas' game with Nevada-Las Vegas and nearly fell flat on his face. Monuments must never trip.
As productive as Ewing was in Georgetown's 76-52 rout of the visiting Runnin' Rebels—his line read six field goals attempted, five made, 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots in 29 minutes—mere numbers will never accurately describe the impact he'll have every time the Hoyas take the court.
Even Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, Georgetown's star senior guard, couldn't diminish the attention that is accorded Ewing, though, in the course of scoring 27 points against UNLV, Floyd made shots after triple-pumping through traffic and after rebounding and somersaulting backwards in the lane and, on defense, avoided a collision foul by leapfrogging a thoroughly astonished opponent. Nor did Floyd wish to take anything away from Ewing. "Just him standing there creates problems," Floyd said. "We can see they're concentrating on Patrick, and that makes it easier for everybody."
Since a disastrous season-opening trip to the Great Alaska Shootout, where the Hoyas lost two of three games, Georgetown has won six straight, which is more like it. The Hoyas were highly touted in part because of Coach John Thompson's famous '81 recruiting class of Ewing, from Cambridge, Mass., and homegrown forwards Anthony Jones (6'6") and Bill Martin (6'1"). Georgetown is thriving on a defense that has limited the opposition to a .405 field-goal percentage. Against UNLV the Hoyas had 14 steals and forced 28 turnovers. Such stats are direct results of several aggressive, reaching, gambling defensive formations, both half-court and full, that, in turn, are effective because of Georgetown's towering new goalie.
The 220-pound Ewing appears not to have grown into his height yet; as he walks, he heaves his shoulders to and fro as if shifting a refrigerator on his back. But running and jumping and searching for balls to reject up over the girders? Lord, he's not so much Secretary as Secretariat. Or what a young, developing Bill Russell must have looked like.
There's still little subtlety in Ewing's game, but it isn't difficult to project him as the next defensive dominator in college. On offense he's a bobble-handed pass receiver, and even when doing his specialty at the other end, he has no idea how to use his body, to hold and push and deny without being whistled by the refs. At times, his response to physical harassment is a whirling elbow, and against George Washington early last week he practically begged for a fight on three occasions. He's all brute force and athleticism.
On Saturday Ewing got in foul trouble when Vegas' 6'8", 243-pound Michael Johnson twice drove the baseline and drew Ewing's second and third personals, sending him to the bench with 8:04 left in the first half. Without him, the Hoyas scored eight straight points, but at halftime led only 36-33.
The obvious strategy in the second half was for Johnson and the other Rebel big men, 6'9" Richie Adams and, especially, 6'9" Sidney (El Cid) Green, to take the ball right at a tentative Ewing. But no. Vegas stayed away. El Cid inexplicably turned into Ben Hur, drove his chariot in circles outside and scored one basket in the final half. Meanwhile, Ewing was not being tentative. On three separate forays he dunked off his own rebound, drove for a reverse layup and stuck a fadeaway jumper that appeared to have been released from behind the backboard.
The lasting vision from Georgetown's 20-2 second-half blowout surge, during which Floyd got 10 points, is one of Ewing leaping up, up and continuing up to grasp teammate Fred Brown's sky-pass somewhere over Baltimore, bring it back into the building and, in the same motion, slam the dunk home.
The heralded freshmen notwithstanding, what Thompson has wrought in the Jesuit school overlooking the Potomac fits in very neatly with the architecture of the neighborhood; it's a team more of weathered townhouses than modern high-rises. That's because seniors are all around, placed as if by design at every key position where they might serve as mentors for the recruits.