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When They Were Champs: The '84 Hoyas

(AP file photo)

To help us get through the slow-as-Jansen summer blogging season, each Thursday until Skins training camp begins I'll post a little something from The Post archives concerning a past DMV championship moment. Memories and requests for future championship moments are welcomed. There were at least two stories that caught my eye on this one; the Metro story from the day after Georgetown won its '84 national championship, and a sports follow from two days later. Previously: the '78 Bullets.

It Was Hoyas' Night to Howl; Georgetown Whoops It Up for Champion Basketballers
By Martin Weil and Ronald D. White, with contributions from John Ward Anderson and Peter Perl.

Thousands of exuberant and exhilarated Georgetown University students and fans of the school's basketball team created joyful pandemonium in Georgetown last night in a chanting, cheering celebration of the team's victory in the NCAA championship game.

Pouring into the streets shortly after the final buzzer signaled Georgetown's 84-75 triumph over Houston, the enthusiastic throng clogged the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Streets for several wildly abandoned minutes of screaming, shouting frenzy.

Even after helmeted police officers who had been waiting nearby cleared the intersection, the crowd continued to swell in size in the surrounding area, climbing on car tops, clinging to traffic signals, filling the air with raucous, boisterous shouts of "We're Number One!"

Police closed M street to traffic for several blocks on all sides of the intersection, which has become a customary gathering site for ecstatic fans eager to express their delight in the successes of Washington's teams.

"Oh, My God," exclaimed a woman, trying to leave a restaurant near the intersection. "Look at all those people. Is it a riot?" she asked, apparently unfamiliar with Georgetown's celebratory tradition.

All around her, Georgetown students and patrons of nearby bars were bellowing at the top of their lungs and the verge of incoherence, hopping incessantly, hugging strangers, whooping, hollering and basking rapturously in the prowess of the university's title-winning team.

"We are Georgetown!" they shouted as streamers of toilet paper flew through the air, amid the snap and pop of firecrackers and the overhead clatter of a police helicopter.

"I knew all along we were going to win," said sophomore Patty Conrad, 19. "It feels great."

Many of the students who milled excitedly around the thronged intersection wearing buttons emblazoned with the school's traditional cheer of "Hoya Saxa!" ("What Rocks" in classical Greek) had taken a holiday from school yesterday, in anticipation of the game and its outcome, Conrad said.

In the the midst of the delirium, one was observed hugging another, when, as if suddenly concerned whether decorum might have been breached he asked: "Do you go to Georgetown?"

"Then it's okay," he said, on being reassured that the other celebrant was indeed a fellow student.

Shortly before midnight, the police, growing concerned that the crowd on the sidewalks was reaching a point at which some revelers might be pushed through shopwindows, decided to permit the merrymaking to expand again into the intersection as a safety valve.

Noisemakers continued to resound in the crowd-choked streets as the revelry and tumult, which began shortly after 11 p.m., continued long past midnight.

More than 40 fans crammed their way onto a blue Oldsmobile convertible parked near Wisconsin and M, and the body of the vehicle all but touched the pavement under their weight. Owner Tom Koutsoumpas of McLean, a first-year student at Georgetown's law school, said he had brought the car and parked it there for the very purpose it was serving.

But after a time, Koutsoumpas, dressed in a gray pinstripe suit with a handkerchief neatly tucked in the breast pocket, said he was having second thoughts. With about 20 unrestrained Hoya fans still clinging to the car, he drove slowly away from the intersection.

Among the members of the throng, estimated to have reached 12,000 persons at its peak, were some who, at least in observations they made to reporters, did not subscribe entirely to the general tendency toward unrestrained exuberance.

"I'm very upset by this," said Georgetown student John Webster, who was standing at Wisconsin and M. "It's too much noise. I was trying to study and there was just too much noise."

On the other hand, Joyce Killette, 50, a real estate agent who stood drinking beer at Wisconsin Avenue and N Street waving a blue and white pompon, said she was well pleased with the night's events.

"Ive been following them for years," she said of the team. "I'm the oldest living Hoyette . . . . I'm the original pompon lady."

"I came 3,000 miles to go to Georgetown and I've never been this excited," said Deroy Murdock, a sophomore. "I'm exhilarated that this team is dominant in the nation and that I shared in the experience."

Sherman Allen, 23, a freshman dental student at Howard, shouted "John Thompson Georgetown's coach for president!"

Yet, with all the chaos, the crowd was described by at least one police officer as not only jolly and festive, but also relatively well behaved.

There were no immediate reports of injury, damage or arrests.

"We got to 'em before they did any real damage," an officer said at Wisconsin Avenue and N Street. He said some of the early arrivals at the vast street party were "stomping all over police cars, but we cleared them off quickly."

By 12:30 a.m., there were signs that the number of youths wearing college sweat shirts or no shirts but wearing body paint instead, had diminished.

But a seeming increase in the volume and variety of fireworks detonations symbolized the high spirits of the thousands who remained as the area grew increasingly littered with broken beer bottles.

The hangers-on included dancers who whirled through wild gyrations on the pavement to music blaring from a parked car. They also included Dave Fulstone, 33, a rancher from Yerington, Nev., (population 2,500) who came to Washington on other business, but found himself in Georgetown last night.

"This is the center of the world right now," he said.

Earlier in the evening, many students and other fans had kept vigil in front of television sets, watching the game develop in Seattle.

Some watched the game in a campus hangout called The Pub, where upbeat music blared, and the Hoyas' victory created sonic chaos.

"I feel great," said senior Gloria Bowles, 21. "I can't even begin to explain it."

"I'm just happy for them," said Eric Smith, a 1982 graduate.

"I've waited four long years for this," said Ry Winston, a senior.

And then from The Pub as well as from The Tombs, where manager Peter Yaffe said "a lot of happy people" had watched the game, and from other spots on and around campus, the jubilant procession began to Wisconsin Avenue.

Thompson Wants to Divvy Up The Pride
By Ken Denlinger

SEATTLE, April 3, 1984 -- "How 'bout some hugs," said John Thompson, pulling trainer Lorry Michel toward him. This was well past midnight, in a near-empty hotel lobby, and Georgetown's staff was gathering to celebrate the NCAA basketball championship in its quiet fashion. To a pair of reporters who had propped toothpicks in their eyes and followed a homing device to the team's hideaway, Thompson smiled and muttered something about intruding on his privacy. Having won his profession's ultimate prize, he scarcely cared.

Hours after a nine-point victory over Houston, the Hoyas coach admitted: "The biggest thing that leaps out in my mind is all of the people, particularly of my race, who I felt never had an opportunity to experience what I have. I know I'm no more intelligent than they are, but they helped me so much when all this adversity was going on.

"In L.A. (during the West Regional), I'm walking down the street and a cab driver stops and says: 'If I knew you were going to be around this much, I'd have taken you home.' The maids in the hotel were coming up to me and telling me: 'Hey, you're doing a good job; don't let 'em get to ya. Keep trying.'

"There were a lot of (black) coaches deprived of the opportunity I was able to get. Frank Bolden (of Cardozo), Dave Brown of Spingarn. They came out as high school coaches and that was the end. I don't think I'm any better than those men. And the college coaches. Bighouse Gaines and John McLendon; a guy at Elizabeth City whose name I can't recall just now. Those guys probably forgot more about basketball than I'll ever learn.

"I had more chances, and I hope they can take some pride in what I have because they contributed to it. The things that they went through, the things that they did made my path a lot clearer, and I'm very much aware of that. I'm not interested in being the first or only black to do anything, because that implies that I'm also the first with ability.

"I don't want to be a part of that."

What Thompson cherishes is molding the parts of a team that won 34 of 37 games this season at whatever pace the opposition cared to play. Houston shot 62.5 percent from the field the first half, and still trailed by 10 points. All the Hoyas defensive demon, Gene Smith, did the entire game was clap; Georgetown still won going away. Houston Coach Guy Lewis could have done nothing to avoid defeat short of bringing back Elvin Hayes and Otis Birdsong.

The Hoyas are a team of now, and tomorrow. The freshmen--Reggie Williams and Michael Graham--contributed 33 points and 12 rebounds; the sophomores--Michael Jackson, David Wingate and Horace Broadnax--contributed 31 points and nine assists; the juniors--Patrick Ewing, Ralph Dalton and Billy Martin--contributed 16 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots; seniors Fred Brown (four points) and Smith grabbed the trophy.

"We won cleanly," Thompson emphasized, "and that means something. I think we made some mistakes along the way, but everybody does. I told the kids to control their emotions. Enjoy it, but don't reach a level of foolishness. Life goes on after the national championship, too. These kids have a helluva lot of fun, in their own way.

"But they wanted to go to McDonald's. That made me feel good."

Something a scribe told him in the dressing room made Thompson think:

"He said John Wooden remarked that he wished all his friends could win one national championship, but he also wished all his enemies would win as many as he won. Guess he was talking about the strain. This year has been the most difficult year of all for me in coaching.

"All the sets of emotional circumstances that went on. So many of them. Last year was very difficult for me, personally, because my mother died. I thought I never was in it emotionally. That's why I admire both Pat and Ralph (for their performances this season in similar grief), because that had such a drastic effect on me."

The coach was grateful his boss, the Rev. Timothy S. Healy, was so supportive during this season's controversy over the type of basketball the Hoyas play; and their relations with the media.

"I'm not an easy person to have as an employe," Thompson admitted, "because of the positions I take and the things I do. I respect his strong stand for me so much. A lot of presidents are so politically inclined, they could say: 'This guy's causing a lot of problems.' Even if they don't take a public position, they take a silent position and whisper to you: 'Calm down.'

"He's never done that with me. He's always encouraged me, told me he believed I was right and that I had the best interests of the kids at heart."

Thompson recalled his coaching roots.

"A priest, Father Bailey, called me up from St. Anthony's," he said, "and told me he had a little parish team he'd like for me to coach. I went over and asked him at lunch time to let me see the team. It was a straight line; you know, everybody the same size. I just broke out laughing about that, and we ended up winning.

"It started with that. I didn't have a master plan for being a coach. I wanted to work with young people; I wanted to teach; I wanted to be an educator. That gave me the freedom to do it a different way. I didn't have to follow the format that maybe a principal might have structured for the classroom teacher.

"It worked out.

"It's great.

"Let's go eat."

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 25, 2009; 3:57 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball , Yester Look  
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I love Coach Thompson's response to adversity: "Are we in heaven yet, where people don't cuss and are never mean?"

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 3:59 AM | Report abuse

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