- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

Two weeks ago, the Georgetown Hoyas were dead last in the Big East's West Division standings and easily could have quit. But threatened with being the first Georgetown team not to qualify for the Big East tournament, as well as the school's worst team in 30 years, the Hoyas have resurrected themselves with three victories in the last four games.

"We're Georgetown, we're the Hoyas, and a lot comes behind that," said shooting guard Gerald Riley. "We are a team that is not known for quitting and we're definitely not going to quit, no matter what our record is."

Georgetown (13-11, 5-8 Big East) righted its season against the bottom half of the conference's weaker East Division: Virginia Tech, Miami, and Providence. The competition gets much stiffer today when the 15th-ranked Syracuse Orangemen (20-4, 10-3), led by fabulous freshman forward Carmelo Anthony, invade MCI Center.

Two factors have led to Georgetown's turnaround. The Hoyas' swarming defense is creating multiple turnovers (an average of 20.2 per game), and Riley has stepped up. In their past four games, the Hoyas are forcing opponents to turn over the ball an average of 20.2 times a game. Riley, meanwhile, has averaged 19.5 points.

Good ball movement lately against zone defenses has resulted in Riley getting open on the perimeter. Riley, who shoots 45.7 percent (43 of 94) from behind the 3-point arc, can drain shots when he has an open look at the basket especially when teams are clogging the lane on star forward Mike Sweetney.

Sweetney, the Big East's second-leading scorer (22.4 points) and rebounder (9.8), certainly appreciates Riley.

"That takes a lot of pressure off me," Sweetney said of Riley's scoring. "Teams have become more hesitant of tripling and doubling me because they know Gerald is out there shooting the 3s and is playing pretty good basketball."

Riley, a junior, suffered a stress reaction what happens to a bone before it actually cracks and breaks in his right foot in September. For most of December and January, he was limited to mostly shooting drills in practice and was unable to play games at full speed. Although he says he's still not 100 percent, Riley feels he's healthy enough to help offensively and defensively.

"I didn't let my injury keep me from playing," he said. "If I'm able to run up and down the court, shoot and play defense, then I think I'm healthy enough to go out there and play some good basketball."

Riley will have his hands full defensively today. He will open on the 6-foot-8 Anthony, who is the Big East's third-leading scorer (21.9 points) and can shoot 3s, drive the lane, post up and crash the offensive glass.

Riley could expend so much energy guarding Anthony that it might take away from his scoring. Riley said he will let the game dictate how he will balance his offense and defense.

As far as the Hoyas' comeback is concerned, coach Craig Esherick said he didn't need to scream and light a fire under his team. The Hoyas simply got tired of losing.

"There were times when I wanted to yell but didn't because I thought it was counterproductive," Esherick said. "They had enough people telling them that we're playing [terribly], and they didn't need me to tell them."

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