- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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For the first time in a long time, Jeff Green had an instance of hesitation.

Moments after Georgetown’s bus arrived on campus yesterday afternoon, the day after the Hoyas clinched a spot in this weekend’s Final Four in Atlanta, a middle-aged man approached Green, tilted his bald head and asked him to sign it.

While Green — the Big East player of the year and the most outstanding player in the East Region — deliberated on his next move, Patrick Ewing Jr. had no such inhibitions and smiled while autographing the shiny dome with a Sharpie.

After spending Sunday night in New Jersey, the Hoyas arrived in front of McDonough Arena to a crowd of several hundred raucous students, many of whom broke out into several spontaneous chants, including “Hoya, Saxa.” There already was a line forming for Final Four student tickets — which go on sale at 9 a.m. today — including students who brought beds, lounge chairs and other comforts designed to brave the overnight chill.

Ewing stepped off the motorcoach hoisting the trophy decorated with the freshly cut net. Coach John Thompson III clutched a game ball that forever will represent one of Georgetown’s greatest wins. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty dropped by to give the Final Four coach a congratulatory hug.

“We are just enjoying life right now,” Ewing said. “We’re in the Final Four now. I am having a lot of fun.”

The Hoyas used a miraculous comeback — down 10 with 7:19 left — against North Carolina to force overtime, then pulled away in the extra session for a 96-84 victory. They will meet Ohio State in the first of two national semifinals Saturday. Defending champion Florida and UCLA will play in the nightcap.

Thompson has brought hoops glory back to the Hilltop in only his third season. However, as has been his way throughout, Thompson refused to compare his team to the great Hoyas teams coached by his father that went to national championship games in 1982, 1984 and 1985.

“You can categorize what kind of stamp it puts on the program,” Thompson said. “We are just trying to win games. And everyone else can analyze and compare and contrast what we do relative to what they did, but we are just a good group of guys trying to win games.”

Thompson did allow himself a moment to enjoy the win Sunday night as he sat around with his staff in the team’s hotel lobby, but yesterday he already was thinking about the matchup with Ohio State and freshman center Greg Oden.

The coach knows that before the Hoyas battle the Buckeyes, they will face a week of outside distractions and hoopla unlike anything they have experienced before.

“We just have to make sure our guys understand we put ourselves in a position to be one of four teams left,” Thompson said. “We put ourselves in position to compete and play next week. So now we have to put ourselves in a position to win.

“To do that, we have to do what we have done all year. Will it be difficult? Yes. You look around and see that excitement and enthusiasm. You lose that game last night, and there is no one here. But we won.”

Green and the Hoyas arrived back on campus with a newfound celebrity status. Still, the players lugged their own bags through the crowd of well-wishers toward the on-campus gymnasium, all the while regularly stopping to sign caps and pose for pictures.

“I am just enjoying the moment with my teammates, the guys who helped get us to this point,” said Green, who still is getting used to all of the attention. “It was just a fun moment for us, and we are enjoying it together.”

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