- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2007


He walked.

Jeff Green took a hop, skip and jump before delivering the game-winning basket with 2.5 seconds left.

The audacity of it all apparently froze the brains of Dick Cartmell, Verne Harris and Rawny McCall, the three referees who up until then had been quick to cite players for breathing too closely on each other.

Green waltzed to the basket, as if he were auditioning to appear on “Dancing With the Stars,” and the Hoyas survived to play another day in the NCAA tournament.

Did Green, with a night to ponder it, think he had committed a violation?

“I knew that question was coming soon,” he said yesterday. “I don’t think I traveled. I let the referees make the call, and they didn’t make the call.”

Green said he skipped the replays of the sequence that aired a zillion times on ESPN following the game and instead to went bed.

Luck, good or bad, is a pervasive element of the single-elimination tournament.

The luck of a call or non-call is subject to human error, as the Hoyas could note.

Before Green was allowed the creative freedom that is usually associated with LeBron James, the Hoyas ran afoul of the three pairs of faulty eyes.

Two calls against Green — his body odor apparently deemed excessive in each instance — put the Commodores on the free throw line and led to three points.

Coach John Thompson III mentioned the blood, sweat, tears and luck of the tournament. He was talking of the North Carolina-Georgetown meeting 25 years ago in the Superdome.

He was talking of the sinking realization after the Fred Brown pass to James Worthy and the game-winning shot of Michael Jordan.

He was there, sitting across from the bench of the Hoyas, wondering if his father ever would have another opportunity to coach in a game with the national championship at stake.

So much preparation goes into a season, he said, and then just like that, in an instant, it is over in cruel fashion.

Thompson was discussing his feelings of that night 25 years ago because of his team’s engagement with the Tar Heels today. To the victor goes a berth in the Final Four this time.

The challenge before Thompson and the Hoyas is to limit the capacity of the Tar Heels to play at breakneck speed.

That means they will have to limit their turnovers and hustle back on defense. That also means they will have to resist the urge to take the first available shot.

Thompson would be tickled to have a game in the 50s in the final minutes.

“You watch them play and no one has been able to slow them down this season,” Thompson said. “We have to be lucky.”

There is that word again.

Wayne Ellington, one of the gifted freshmen with the Tar Heels, is not convinced the Hoyas will be able to dictate the pace of the game.

“Our games are going to clash,” he said. “They like to slow it down and take some time off the clock, and we like to get it up and down the floor and get easy transition buckets. So we will see how that goes. I know they tend to keep teams in the 60s, and I think that’s going to be tough to do against us.”

This is a match-up that undoubtedly pleases the CBS brass — two programs that share a significant moment in college basketball history.

Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, joking, suggested the participants from the 1982 game still might put on a good show.

“That would be a heck of a game right now,” he said.

As it is, the Hoyas have a “Back to the Future” dimension about them, with a Thompson patrolling the sidelines and an Ewing in uniform, both sons of the legends.

The legends would love nothing more than to have some payback today.

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