WASHINGTON -- There is something conspicuously absent from Georgetown's early-season basketball schedule this year. No hyphenated teams from Hawaii. No St. Leo's or any of the Hoyas' other perennial, uh, rivals.
For starters, Georgetown will play Maryland on Nov. 26 at the USAir Arena to open the 1993-94 season. It marks the first meeting between the schools in 13 years. There's also a game -- a road game no less -- at Memphis State on Dec. 30.
What in the Hawaii-Hilo is going on here?
"If you look at the Big East schedule, [it] causes you to play these type of games," Georgetown coach John Thompson said yesterday during the team's annual Media Day at McDonough Gym. "We have two [Big East games] in December this year, and you've got to get prepared for them. End of story."
This new and improved non-conference schedule also includes Nevada-Las Vegas, DePaul and Southern University (which beat Georgia Tech in the opening round of last year's NCAA tournament). It was met with great anticipation by the Georgetown players, most of whom are used to not working up a good sweat until after New Year's.
"As a player, you want to play the better teams," said senior point guard Joey Brown. "I was excited when I saw it."
Big East preparation aside, there's another reason for Thompson's change in philosophy. The coach, who helped end the short-lived series with the Atlantic Coast Conference, still doesn't like his young players to go through a rigorous first month when they are worrying about and studying for exams.
But Georgetown has more experience than it has had in a few years. Seniors Brown and forward Robert Churchwell are long established as starters and juniors John Jacques and Irvin Church are likely to battle it out at shooting guard. The Hoyas went 20-13 and reached last season's NIT final without a senior, but have four this year.
"I think it was very good that we went as far as we did [in the NIT before losing to Minnesota]," said Thompson, whose team has been ranked between ninth and 15th by most of the preseason publications. "We couldn't catch fire [during the regular season]. But the flame came when we beat Arizona State on the road. That was a very big win for us."
What also helped the Hoyas was a five-game trip to Israel during the summer and the style Georgetown employed for most of it. Playing a more up-tempo style that Thompson had installed toward the end of last season, Georgetown won three games, including a victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv, a team that had won the European championships a couple of years ago.
It is a style that Thompson has been criticized for not playing in recent years, but one that the Hoyas will continue to use this season as long as they don't get too sloppy with the ball. When effective, it hides the fact that Georgetown still can't shoot well from the outside.
"We haven't been able to do that for 21 years," said Thompson, who is beginning his 22nd season at Georgetown. "When we won the national championship [in 1984], people said that Gene Smith and Fred Brown shouldn't be playing for us because they couldn't shoot. But we wouldn't have won a championship without them because of their competitiveness."
As for the long-awaited rematch with Maryland, Thompson apparently isn't getting too excited about it. And for those thinking that the game with the Terps is the first step toward TC local tournament involving George Washington and its rising star, Yinka Dare, think again.
"Good local rivalries are passe," said Thompson. "I've said 100 times that the name of the game is national, and it's going international. The only people who care about local rivalries are here in Washington. Why is Georgetown going to look at local rivalries?"
Especially now, when its rivalry with St. Leo's is seemingly a thing of the past.
Georgetown's early-season schedule has a different look from 1992-93's. A comparison of the first eight games on this season's schedule and last season's:
... ... .'92-93.... ... ... ... ... ... ... .'93-94..
Date... ... Opp... .. .. Date... ... ... ... ...Opp..
12/2... ... St. Leo... . 11/26... ... ... .. Maryland
12/5... ... Southern... .11/27... ... ... . Va. State
12/9... ... Pitt... ... .12/1... ... ... ... Southern
12/12... .. UMES... ... .12/4... ... ... .. Villanova
12/19... .. Morgan... .. 12/7... ... ... ... .. Miami
12/28... .. Hawaii-P... .12/10... ... ... ... .Morgan
12/30... ...UC-Irvine... 12/18... ... ... ..UC-Irvine
1/2... ... Miami... ... .12/30... ... ... . Memp. St.