It began with John Thompson III hugging his four seniors close at mid-court, honoring Tyler Crawford, Patrick Ewing Jr., Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace as cornerstones of the latest Georgetown dynasty. It ended with Ewing sitting on the bench, tears wetting the towel that hid his face. Hibbert stood at the far end of the court, leading the student section in a raucous cheer. Wallace and Crawford embraced again at mid-court, then took turns cradling the latest addition to the McDonough basketball trophy case. The joyous celebrations that preceded and followed Saturday’s regular season finale victory over Louisville were exciting and full of emotion – the things that “Hoosiers” and “Rudy” have led us to believe sports are all about. The pre and post-game festivities sandwiched a largely pedestrian game, the kind not often highlighted by Hollywood production, but the sort that defines selfless champions.

The finale for the four members of the winningest senior class in the history of Hoya basketball was something short of grand. The climax of nearly a half decade of hard work and persistence was somewhat anti-climatic.

The accomplishments – capturing the school’s second straight Big East regular season title, closing out an undefeated home season, securing the top spot in this week’s conference tournament – were incredible.

Louisville and Georgetown – the cream of the Big East Crop – played forty minutes of ho-hum hoops. They combined for nearly 30 turnovers and barely totaled 100 points between them. In the banner game of the Big East schedule, forty-nine shot attempts fell foul, and neither the Hoyas nor the Cardinals ever seemed to exert their dominance over the other. This one could have gone either way, but Georgetown prevailed today, mostly because it kept its composure down the stretch and did not let fundamentals take a back seat to theatrics.

“This was an old school Big East game,” said Thompson, who added that he planned on returning to Verizon Center after the Washington Wizards-Charlotte Bobcats game tonight to cut down the nets. “It was just a traditional Big East battle, and we were fortunate to pull away in the end. We have a group of guys on each side of the floor who protect each other and have each other’s back. That’s who we are – we are a team, a unit.”

All the spectacular story lines fizzled on Saturday. The game was chalked up as another Big Man’s bout, the rematch between low post heavy weights Roy Hibbert and David Padgett following Padgett’s 18-point knockout in the first meeting on Feb. 7. But Hibbert vs. Padgett II proved more worthy of the under card – both players finished with 12 points and never dominated for any stretch of time.

Rick Pitino’s wardrobe was back to the blasé black suit, and John Thompson Jr. deflected all questions about his son bettering him (Thompson Jr. never won consecutive regular season titles) with a tone of defiance.

Even the hoopla about the Hoyas’ heralded quartet of seniors proved to be, well, hoopla. Of the four fourth-years, only Hibbert finished in double figures. Freshman Austin Freeman led Georgetown with 15, and a sophomore, DaJuan Summers, hit the game-winning shot.

In the end, it was a collective effort, an utter lack of ego and an interminably even-keeled manner that allowed the Hoyas to be crowned champions again. There was no single hero – Summers hit the shot, Freeman netted the points and Ewing played his usual inspired defense – but one team standing alone at the top.

“This is a combination of our hard work,” Hibbert said. “We were up at times, we were down at times, we stayed together, and we made it work.”

Georgetown has found countless ways to skin the cat this season. Be it the Hibbert three, the Ewing swat or the Wallace feint, the Hoyas know how to come through in the clutch. Today’s game was won through persistence, experience and smarts.

“They have been lucky,” Pitino said, adding that he’d be “up a lot of money” if the Hoyas stopped at the racetrack every once and a while. “They won tonight because they were better. Georgetown has been terrific. To win it twice with this many teams in the league, I have to give credit where credit is due.”

Pitino is right – while the Hoyas have had Lady Luck on their side this season, a team does not win consecutive Big East Titles by happenstance.

“This league is a monster,” Thompson said. “You can be on top one week, and the next week be on the bottom. One year you can be on top, the next year be fighting for your life. We’re fortunate to have these two years. To plug along and be standing here as the regular season champs is something that is special. It is very, very special.”

Check your calendars. Beware the Ides of March. This is the time of year when individual heroics are not enough. To March onward, teams must be just that – a tight-knit group that has spent four months – or years – together, learning one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and finding out how to win.

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