'Lucky' Hoyas relish season title, look to Big East tourney Print
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Sunday, 09 March 2008 07:39
NCAAB Headline News

 WASHINGTON (AP) -According to Rick Pitino, Georgetown deserved the victory that won the school's second consecutive Big East regular-season title.
As for some of the Hoyas' other wins?
``They've been lucky,'' the Louisville coach said.
The No. 11 Hoyas (25-4, 15-3) won another close one Saturday, beating the 12th-ranked Cardinals 55-52 to claim the regular-season crown and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big East tournament. This one featured no fluke plays at the end - DuJuan Summers' open 3-pointer with 40 seconds was the deciding basket - and it increased Georgetown's record to 6-0 in games decided by three points or fewer.
But Georgetown certainly had some head-scratching finishes on the way to first place. Patrick Ewing Jr. blocked a shot at the buzzer in a one-point win over West Virginia, but the Mountaineers thought he should've been whistled for goaltending.
And how is it that 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert can sink a 3-pointer - only the second one he's ever attempted - in the final seconds to beat Connecticut?
And what was the ref thinking when he called a touch foul on Villanova some 70 feet from the basket in a tie game with less than a second remaining? Jonathan Wallace sank both free throws for a two-point Hoyas win.
And how about Wallace making all three free throws after getting fouled attempting a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left to force overtime in a victory at Marquette?
``They won tonight because they were better,'' Pitino said after Saturday's game. ``Obviously good teams get luck. But on a goaltending call, on a push out of bounds, on a Hibbert 3 - God bless 'em, they're closer to heaven than we are. Tonight it wasn't luck. Those other games were pretty lucky.
``Put it this way, if they were going to a racetrack, we'd all be up a lot of money right now.''
Stat-heads can argue forever about the significance of close wins. Some say that such games are usually crapshoots and don't really determine how good a team is. The top teams, they say, win games by big margins, not small ones. The theory goes that if Georgetown keeps flirting with danger, the odds will catch up to the Hoyas, perhaps in the win-or-go-home NCAA tournament.
Others say the ability to consistently close out tight victories shows the mettle of a team, that the senior-led Hoyas in particular have shown the ability to thrive under the type of pressure still to come in the NCAAs.
As the beneficiary of the strange victories, Georgetown coach John Thompson III has said repeatedly that a win is a win - no matter how pretty or ugly. When asked about Pitino's assertion that the Hoyas are a lucky team, Thompson pleaded guilty - in a roundabout sort of way.
``It takes luck,'' Thompson said. ``There's no doubt about that. At the same time, that group in there has put themselves in a position to be lucky. We believe in what we're doing, how we're doing it, so when luck kind of rolls around, we're there to take it.
``Like anything in life, just putting yourself into position to be lucky is what it's all about. So if you want to call it luck, we'll take it.''
As he did last year, Thompson placed a lot of emphasis on winning the regular-season title, even though there are greater goals for a team seeking a return trip to the Final Four.
``We just have finished one phase of the year,'' Thompson said. ``Now we go to New York and it is a different phase of the year. Hopefully we will get to the NCAA tournament and that is the third phase of the year.
``I think we are better this week than we were last week, and it's important that we are better next week than we are this week. And if we are fortunate to be playing the week after that, we have to be better then, too.''
And maybe even luckier.

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