The 1984 Georgetown Hoyas were an intimidating force and physically manhandled opponents en route to a national title. Patrick Ewing, the 7’0” center, whose defense defined every game, was in his junior year, and the team looked like it had in 1982, with a very deep team surrounding him. They played defense, hit the boards and were the #1 seed in the West by NCAA Tournament time.
In the age before the shot clock was used in tournament play (while it was used in the regular season in 1983, it didn’t become standard for NCAA Tournament games until 1986), underdog teams could slow the pace down dramatically and that’s what SMU did in a second-round game. After a first-round bye, Georgetown barely survived the Mustangs in a 37-36 final, but they were on their way to Pauley Pavilion, home of UCLA, for the West Regional.
In Los Angeles, customary Hoya dominance returned. In their two wins over UNLV and Dayton they won the rebounding battle by a combined 76-48 and won both games by double-digit margins. It wasn’t only Ewing on the glass, but forward Bill Martin, who pulled down ten boards in the win over Dayton in the final. The Georgetown defense shut down the Flyers’ top scorer in Roosevelt Chapman and once again the Beast of the East was the Best in the West.
The Final Four was in Seattle, where Ewing had anticipated battles against top centers in Kentucky’s Sam Bowie and then a potential final game matchup with Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon.
Saturday’s game against Kentucky shocked the entire country. Everyone knew the Hoyas could D it up with anyone, but no one expected them to hold Kentucky to 11 second half points and 3-of-23 shooting after the half, as a 29-22 Wildcat lead at intermission turned into a 53-40 Georgetown victory. Bowie was the only Wildcat player who could get a rebound and even with a poor game from Ewing, point guard Michael Jackson picked up the slack.
Houston barely survived Virginia to make the Monday night championship game, but their offense could match up with Georgetown’s defense. Cougar point guard Alvin Franklin successfully broke down the Hoya D off the dribble and scored 21 points. Michael Young scored 18, although at 8-of-21 shooting, Thompson was probably willing to concede that. Ewing only scored 10, while Olajuwon scored 15, but the depth around Ewing was vastly superior and Houston couldn’t guard people on the perimeter the way Georgetown could.
Swingmen Reggie Williams and David Wingate scored 19 and 16 points respectively and bald-headed enforcer Michael Graham delivered 14. Georgetown led by ten at the half and went on to win 84-75.
Thompson was the first African-American coach to win a national championship. Ewing had won his battle with Olajuwon and even though the Houston center would get his revenge in the 1994 NBA Finals when he was with the Rockets while Ewing was with the Knicks, that was a long way off. In the spring of 1984, Ewing, Thompson and Georgetown basketball were on top of the world.