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History meets urgency: St. John’s and Georgetown celebrate legacies

Tonight will be a celebration of the past. Some history you may want to know.

Big East Basketball Media Day Photo by Porter Binks

New Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing, who starred in the 1980s on the court for the Hoyas, reminisced about playing at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s always good to be back,” said Ewing. “I spent a large part of my life there. Running up and down that court. Blood, sweat and tears. I have to tell Chris that’s my home, my house.”

Reminiscing aside, Ewing is focused, as is Chris Mullin, on one thing, getting their teams back on track with a Big East win this evening, on a night where the old Big East meets the new. A look down memory, for what you should know about The Way Things Were:

The Patrick Ewing/ Chris Mullin story begins in 1981, the third year of the Big East. The conference which began in 1979 was truly an Eastern league of seven schools: Providence, St. John’s, Boston College, Georgetown, Syracuse, Seton Hall and Connecticut. No school was further west than Syracuse and none was further south than Georgetown in Washington, DC.

In its second year Villanova joined rounding out the conference to eight teams.

The basketball world had strong programs at the time, headed by UCLA, North Carolina, with coach Dean Smith, Indiana with coach Bobby Knight and Duke University with a new, well-regarded coach, Mike Krzyzewski. The Big East schools were also quite powerful. In its initial season the Big East had three schools in the top thirteen headed by Syracuse at #6, Georgetown at #11 and St. John’s at #13.

The number one team in the country, led by Mark Aguirre, was DePaul, not in the conference at the time.

From 1983–1985, Mullin was named the Big East conference’s player of the year, making him the only men’s basketball player to receive this award three different seasons. He was also awarded the 1985 Wooden Award and USBWA College Player of the Year awards, in his senior year.

For a career Chris Mullin scored 2,440 points, still a career record at St. John’s. Even more impressive is the reality that Mullin played before the three-point shot was implemented. Being a deadly shooter, it is unknown how many points he would have accumulated under current college basketball rules.

Mullin averaged 19.5 point per game for his collegiate career.

Patrick Ewing had an equally successful career at Georgetown from 1981-1985. Known as a prolific rebounder and defensive player, Ewing also averaged 15.3 points for his collegiate career. He filled an important role on a talented Georgetown team and played in three NCAA championship games. The first was a loss in 1982 to North Carolina on a shot by Michael Jordan in the waning seconds of the game.

Ewing led the Hoyas to victory over Houston (with Hakeem Olajuwon) for the title in 1984.

In 1985, Ewing’s Georgetown team defeated the St. John’s Redmen (as they were known at the time) three times during the season in which St. Johns had a 31-4 record. The last victory was in the NCAA semi-final game.

In a memorable final between Georgetown and Big East rival, Villanova, the Hoyas lost to Villanova in a game described as one of the most perfect games played.

Villanova slowed the game down as there was no shot clock at the time. The Wildcats were successful on 22 of 28 field goal attempts in the game, for a shooting percentage of 78.6 percent. The Wildcats made all but one of their 10 shot attempts in the second half, defeating Georgetown 66-64.

In their professional careers, Chris Mullin was an all-star for the Golden State Warriors and continued playing in a starting role for the Indiana Pacers.

Patrick Ewing, who caused heartbreak for St. John’s fans so many times, became a hero as a New York Knick, playing out his career in New York.

The Mullin/Ewing rivalry continued, particularly during the very competitive Easter Division playoffs in 1998, 1999 and 2000 when Mullin played with the Pacers. Mullin’s team won in 1998 and in 2000 while Ewing’s Knicks were the victors in 1999

Both Mullin (12.3 pts per game) and Ewing (10.3 pts per game) were teammates on two USA Olympic teams in 1984 and in 1992, when the teams dominated the International competition on the way to two

Both became coaches of teams who had a recent history of struggling. Patrick Ewing consulted his old friend and competitor, Chris Mullin before taking the Georgetown head coaching job.

But then is then, and now, both teams are at the bottom of the Big East, looking to surge with a win.

Let the game begin.

Are there specific moments between the two players the come to mind? Specific games?