Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Fans and Former Players Remember 1984 Championship

As the Hoyas’ hopes for a Final Four appearance continued to dwindle this weekend with their loss to Marquette, Georgetown celebrated the 25th anniversary of a team that did make it to – and take full advantage of – college basketball’s biggest stage.

The Hoya Hoop Club and the athletic department welcomed back members of the 1984 national championship team for a banquet and silent auction Friday night and the game against the Golden Eagles on Saturday. Though stars Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) and Reggie Williams (CAS ’87) were missing – Ewing delivered a video-recorded address at halftime on Saturday – hundreds of fans and dozens of former players turned out for the commemoration.

“We understand the responsibility that this group has because of what that group did,” Head Coach John Thompson III said after Georgetown beat South Florida last Wednesday night. “We understand that we are able to sit here and be Georgetown because they were Georgetown.”

Headlining the returning stars were Gene Smith (CAS ’84), dubbed the “heart and soul” of the team at the Friday night event, Michael Graham, who was forced to drop out after the 1984 season ended but whose physical style of play left an indelible mark, and Michael Jackson (CAS ’86). Horace Broadnax (MSB ’86), who coaches the Savannah State team that lost to Georgetown 100-38 in December, Billy Martin (CAS ’85), Ralph Dalton (CAS ’85, MSB `87), and of course, former Head Coach John Thompson Jr. were also in attendance.

Other former players, both older and younger than the 1984 bunch, turned out for the celebration. Guests included former Hoyas Mike Laughna (CAS ’72), Sead Dizdarevic (COL ’07), Amadou Kilkenny Diaw (COL ’06), Ryan Beale (MSB ’06), and Tyler Crawford (COL ’08).

After nearly choosing to skip the event entirely, Thompson Jr. towered over the dais for upwards of 20 minutes Friday evening, recalling the road to the Final Four, some lighter moments along the way involving Jack the Bulldog, both human and canine, and how earlier that morning, he was awakened by his snoring son, who had snuck into his father’s house for a few hours of sleep after a late night of watching tape.

His son made the first speech of the night, saying that the 1984 team had given his group “something to aspire to” and that his goal is to “put another banner in McDonough, and that will happen.”

Earlier in the day, he recalled for reporters his memory of the 1984 season and its impact on both the university and his father.

“I absolutely was in Seattle,” he said of the Final Four’s location. “I was born in 1966. My dad started coaching at St. Anthony’s [High School] in 1966. He came to Georgetown in ’72. So after 18 years of living with a coach and seeing everything that goes into putting yourselves in position to be lucky, that night, that year, at 18, did I fully understand it? Do I appreciate it more now? Yes. But did I understand what had happened? Yes, absolutely.”

The auction Friday night saw a Patrick Ewing-autographed basketball go for $7,225, a luxury box for next season’s Duke game fetch $4,600, and dinner with Thompson III and his wife, Monica, draw $4,050. Other auction items included a game of H-O-R-S-E with Jeff Green, sneakers worn and signed by Dikembe Mutombo (FLL ’91), and tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert.

Current players were not as abundant Friday night. With a game the following afternoon, only senior guard Jessie Sapp and sophomore guard Chris Wright made an appearance. Perhaps trying to diffuse rumors that the two were not speaking, they entered the event together at around 7:30 p.m.

Freshman center Greg Monroe said that he decided to stay home in his dorm room, preferring to stay off his feet the night before a game. Earlier Friday, a reporter asked Monroe, who was born in 1990, how many of the 1984 players he could name.

“I know Patrick Ewing,” he said. “I know Michael Graham.”

“Y’all know who was on that team?” he asked teammates DaJuan Summers and Austin Freeman.

“Michael Jackson,” an athletic department spokesperson replied.

“Freddie Brown – the guy who passed the ball to Worthy,” Summers said, evoking memories of the 1982 title game against North Carolina.

But for Sapp, the 2008-2009 team’s elder statesman, the Georgetown teams of the 1980s were a part of why he came to the Hilltop.

“It really stands for pride,” he said of the 1984 squad. “They overcame a lot of obstacles – you know I felt like that was like my life. Overcoming obstacles, pride and toughness – that’s Georgetown basketball and that means a lot to me as a person because that’s what I’ve lived like.”

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