The plan all along had reporters meeting with members of the Georgetown men's basketball team Monday to preview Tuesday's highly anticipated game at Maryland. The session took place, but the tone changed. Suffering a season-opening loss and arguably the biggest home upset in decades will do that.
There were indeed questions about the importance of this coming meeting in College Park with history lessons in mind, but also on how the Hoyas must contend with the No. 3 Terps. However, the primary focus centered on Saturday's stunning result at Verizon Center.
While the Big East power started slow and never showed true hustle, the Big South stunners finished strong. Radford's 3-pointer with 0.7 on the clock in double overtime sank Georgetown 82-80.
"They came out with a chip on their shoulder expecting to win that game," senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera said of Radford. "We came out there as if we weren't ready to play, like we would just walk over them and you see the results."
The issues were numerous. Despite significant height advantages across the court, the Hoyas were outrebounded on both ends. Their 3-point shooting touch disappeared early and late. Energy wavered when loose balls presented possession opportunities, opportunities Radford gobbled up.
"Throughout the game, Radford made the plays necessary to win, offensively and defensively," Georgetown coach said Monday from McDonough Arena. "We had our opportunities coming down the stretch, but we didn't make winning plays."
It's not hyperbole to suggest that this setback, to a program from a one-bid NCAA Tournament league without any notable basketball history, is the worst one suffered by Georgetown dating back to 1983.
All of that can be forgotten -- though not with those calculating RPI -- with a win over Maryland in the first regular season matchup between the local programs in the D.C. area since 1993.
Contentious at times throughout the decades, the rivalry ran hottest when John Thompson Jr. battled and eventually surpassed the Lefty Driesell coached Terps for local supremacy during the 1980's. Scheduling debates of the "who, what, where and why" sort kept the programs apart even after Maryland's 84-83 upset win in overtime at the Capital Centre in 1993.
The only subsequent games came not by design, but by the tournament bracket gods. Eighteen years after the Hoyas won the national title, Maryland defeated Georgetown in the 2001 NCAA Tournament en route to cutting down the nets. The last meeting took place in Orlando with the Hoyas rolling for a 27-point win in the 2008 Old Space Classic.
John Thompson III grew up during the truly intense part of this rivalry. He recalled Monday the physical and exhausting interior battles between Georgetown forward Craig Shelton and Maryland's Buck Williams in 1979 when the teams met at the D.C. Armory. This Thompson has been game for a rematch for some time. Under the cover of the Gavitt Tipoff Games between Big East and Big Ten teams, that time has come with another meeting set for 2016 at Verizon Center.
"I think it's good for both programs," Thompson said. "We're excited."
Thompson believes his young players grasp why this game isn't just the next game.
"They understand the history. They have read and heard from various people --myself included -- that this game is special."
Beyond the history lesson, this game is special in the moment. For Georgetown to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1998-99, they must defeat a team that Thompson calls "elite."
That's not how anyone described the Terps just one year ago when there were questions about the future under coach Mark Turgeon. That all changed with a 28-win season, the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years and robust recruiting.
Sporting an impressive roster led by All-American guard candidate Melo Trimble, senior forward Jake Layman and imposing freshman center Diamond Stone, the Terps are preseason favorites for the Big Ten crown.
With its size, depth and shooting prowess on display, Maryland kept its record pristine with Friday's 80-56 win over Mount St. Mary's.
"We're playing a team [Tuesday] that's elite. At every position they have an elite player."
That might be the case for Georgetown as well. Smith-Rivera is one of the top guards in the country. Sophomore's Isaac Copeland and L.J. Peak, and freshman center Jessie Govan are among those oozing upside.
None of that matters if the Hoyas don't make those winning plays.
"We want to be one of the elite teams in the country. It starts with competing," said Smith-Rivera, who went scoreless in the first half Saturday before finishing with 15 points. "We think we can compete with anybody. As long as we rebound and as long as we defend, we should be fine, but we have to do with that."
They must do that not just for a needed win, but because this game is also for history.
Notes: Forward Paul White (hip), who did not face Radford, is questionable to face Maryland, Thompson said.
MORE COLLEGE HOOPS: Stunner: Radford upsets Georgetown