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19 Georgetown With a new coach laying down the law, the Hoyas are looking like a powerhouse again


As a graduate of Georgetown Law School and a member of the
Washington, D.C., bar, Hoyas coach Craig Esherick understands
the importance of a good closing argument. So a few hours after
Georgetown's season ended with a listless loss to Princeton in
the first round of the NIT tournament last March, Esherick
assembled his players and delivered an hourlong summation of
their 15-16 season. He was one angry man.

"He went straight down the line and gave every one of us a
reality check," recalls 6'11" senior Jameel Watkins, the team's
leading rebounder (7.2 per game). Esherick voiced particular
displeasure at the players' lack of cohesion in tense moments;
the Hoyas had dropped six Big East games by three points or
less. In case the message failed to get through, he didn't give
out a Most Valuable Player award at the postseason banquet a few
weeks later.

With the dawning of a new season, however, a credible case can
be made for Georgetown as the Big East's sleeper. Last season's
rookie backcourt of Anthony Perry and Kevin Braswell--the
leading scorers with 14.0 and 13.5 points per game,
respectively--is a year older and, presumably, a year wiser. The
Hoyas return a budding star in the middle in 6'11" junior Ruben
Boumtje Boumtje, a Cameroon native who averaged 8.5 points and
7.0 rebounds per game. And former coach John Thompson, who
unexpectedly resigned on Jan. 8, bequeathed to Esherick, his
assistant for 19 years, a very strong recruiting class.

Georgetown's most heralded newcomer, 6'11" junior college
transfer Lee Scruggs, must complete his course work at Daytona
Beach Community College but could join the team as early as Dec.
26. But the Hoyas' success will hinge mostly on Boumtje Boumtje,
whose confidence--not to mention his stats--swelled noticeably
in the second half of last season, a trend he attributes partly
to Esherick's kinder, gentler mode of communication. "Coach
Thompson would curse first, then talk. Coach Esherick talks
more," Boumtje Boumtje says. As long as Esherick gets his points
across, Georgetown should enjoy a few more favorable verdicts
this season.


COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY Peacenik Boumtje Boumtje digs having a quieter coach.



SF Nat Burton[1] 6'4" Jr. 11.4 ppg
PF Jameel Watkins[1] 6'11" Sr. 7.2 rpg
C R. Boumtje Boumtje[1] 6'11" Jr. 2.9 bpg
SG Anthony Perry[1] 6'3" Jr. 14.0 ppg
PG Kevin Braswell[1] 6'2" So. 13.5 apg

1998-99 record: 15-16 Final rank (coaches' poll): unranked
Returning starter[1]