This is a weekly special exclusive VIP guest column series entitled The State Of The Hoyas. Enjoy.
Georgetown’s second meeting versus Missouri tonight brings back some great memories from the first and only time they’ve met. Last year we posted about the historic game that shut down Manley Field House – Hoyas v Tigers 1982 was the game that for all intent and purposes shut down McDonough Arena.
(More After the Jump)
First some context. When Patrick Ewing arrived on campus in 1981, most of the big games were moved to the Capital Centre in Landover. Most, but not all. Several big games were still scheduled for campus that year. The last big game to be played at McDonough was slated for February 20, 1982. After that McDonough was to be used solely for the occasional pre-season cupcake, NIT games that were mandated as on-campus, and a couple of snow storms.
With all that happened in Ewing’s freshman post-season, it’s easy to overlook the Missouri game. But at the time, it wasn’t overlooked. In fact it was the most anticipated home game of the season. It could very well have been the most anticipated on campus game ever for McDonough. Missouri was the number one team in the country for much of that season. They lost their first game of the season the week before coming to McDonough and dropped from #1 to #4. Meaning they arrived at McDonough with a 23-1 record and with something to prove.
Campus that morning was a little like being at some of the more fanatical schools. While there was no tent village, students lined up at the crack of dawn for the late afternoon game. My friends and I arrived at McDonough six hours before game time. That’s about 5 hours and 59 minutes earlier than every other game. With the announced attendance of 4620 in an arena with 3600 capacity, NBC color analyst Al McGuire famously said, "there are more than 5000 people in here today, the fire marshall has taken the day off."
Speaking of Al McGuire, having him on campus was a very big deal. It’s hard to describe how big. Most people saw one game a week in 1982 and it was Al McGuire who explained it. Imagine Dick Vitale and the Pope doing the game, with Doug Gottleib denied admission because stupid people weren’t allowed to analyze games yet. NBC was the only network that broadcast NCAA basketball and it was rare they showed a game that didn’t involve UCLA or Notre Dame. ESPN was still a baby and nobody had cable yet anyway…except Chadwicks of course. This was THE NBC nationally televised game of the week. With Dick Enberg and Al McGuire at the mics, this was the game the whole country was watching that afternoon.
And for good reason. Missouri was led by pre season All American Steve Stipanovich. Stipanovich was a seven footer who could play down low, but also had decent touch from 15 feet. His teammates Rodney McCrary, Jon Sunvold and Ricky Frazier were analyzed to death by Hoya faithful leading up to the game.
Stipanovich was also famous for an unfortunate off season incident. Apparently while playing with a hunting rifle during the summer, Stipanovich managed to discharge the weapon, shooting himself in the foot. You can’t make this shit up. You can only imagine the antics, cheers and signs the well educated Hoya fans came prepared with. Let’s just say we didn’t disappoint and Steve will never be the same.
And the game didn’t disappoint. Ewing, coming off one of his worst games of the season against Boston College, simply dominated the game. 5000 screaming fans saw Patrick Ewing dismantle, intimidate, emasculate, and completely humiliate the Missouri All American. Stipanovich managed 4 points in the game, half of which came in garbage time. He almost seemed relieved when he picked up his third foul and got to hide on the bench for awhile.
The Hoyas were lead by Ewing and my man, Sleepy Floyd. Patrick finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, which are a little misleading. He scored 11 points in the first part of the game and from then on let everyone else shoot. He got several Missouri players in foul trouble, blocked a ton of shots and then relied on Sleepy and Eric Smith to close the deal. After the game, one of the beat writers wrote, "The seven foot freshman phenom simply stomped the Tigers to death intimidating them on both ends of the floor to pace Georgetown to a front running 63-51 victory in the national TV game of the week."
Sleepy, the master of quiet understatement said, "What happened to the Tigers today was probably Patrick."
The biggest cheer of the day may have come on the most spectacular miss. With the clock running down, Patrick drove the lane and threw down a vicious dunk. It was so vicious that it missed, clanged to the top of McDonough and landed near half court. Patrick’s strength and then his big smile brought the house down.
But this was also the shining day for McDonough. From the Baltimore Sun: "It wasn’t only Ewing who intimidated the Tigers…The intense crowd and deafening noise in the compact gym played its part."
Legendary Mizzou coach Norm Stewart had no trouble expressing himself after the game. When asked if this was a home and home series, he said, "No this was no home and home series, but if we play them again, it will be in my hometown of Shelbyville, MO, population 600, with my father and uncle as referees."
It was simply the most fun I’ve ever had at a basketball game. If Georgetown had won the finals that year, if Jordan had choked or Freddie Brown passed to an actual teammate, I might feel differently. Then again, I might not.
And like Manley Field House, important men’s games are not played at McDonough anymore. We shut down Manley in a way no one has forgotten. We also shut down McDonough on our terms in a way no one should ever forget.