Until recently, Georgetown coach John Thompson III rarely dialed up swingman Aaron Bowen's number when seeking a substitute. The third-year player received only scant and random minutes during the bulk of his college career.
No wonder Bowen proved inexperienced with postgame phone etiquette following the thrilling 53-51 win over No. 5 Louisville.
Bowen, sitting next to Thompson, earned his spot on the podium in front of hordes of reporters and cameras after acrobatically tipping in the game's final basket with 3:38 remaining, breaking a 50-all tie.
Georgetown (14-4, 4-3 Big East) has won four of five games and defeated Louisville four straight times.
"It was the winning basket," Thompson said. "Literally, the dead ball before his basket, [Bowen] says 'I’m going to get one coach, I’m going to get one' and then he goes out and does it. That’s pretty good."
Bowen, who only scored the one basket, confirmed the prophecy.
"We knew that rebounds would be a big key to us winning the game," said Bowen, who has scored 49 total points in 34 career games. "I kept trying to go in and get rebounds. I told him I'm going to get him one. That's what happened."
Moments later, the attention returned to the unassuming player after his cell phone starting ringing as his coach commented on another aspect of the game.
"See, AB is not used to coming in," Thompson cracked.
Markel Starks certainly is. The chatty junior guard, who matched Otto Porter for team-high scoring honors with 17 points, literally pulled the microphone away from Bowen when asked for his analysis of the decisive play.
"As soon as we went into the locker room, I told [Aaron], 'I've never seen anything like that,'" Starks said. "When the shot went up, he just came out of nowhere. It was unbelievable."
Also unbelievable, Starks' description of Bowen's physical gifts.
"I tell him all the time, he's probably one of the most athletic people on the planet," Starks said, leading to a perfectly executed eye roll by Thompson after hearing the hyperbolic statement.
Of course, there is no exaggeration about the Hoyas' stunning 4-1 record without the academically ineligible Greg Whittington. Without Georgetown's second-leading scorer and rebounder, Thompson has looked deeper down his bench to the likes of Bowen, freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and center Moses Ayegba.
The reserves have significantly factored into the last two victories, both over ranked teams, including Monday's 16-point win at Notre Dame.
"We’re getting better. We’re progressing," Thompson said after his team held a fifth straight opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the field. "I think our guys are doing a better job of helping each other, particularly at the defensive end."
After Bowen's over-the-head putback before the raucous crowd of 17,474, the Cardinals managed only one free throw and missed their final five field goal attempts, including Peyton Siva's jumper with six seconds remaining.
Louisville (16-4, 4-3) has gone from being the No. 1 ranked team in the country to losing three straight. Upon hearing about the Hoyas' success following Whittington's ineligibility, Cardinals' coach Rick Pitino joked, "I’m thinking of suspending a player."
Starks led Georgetown's defensive charge, holding Siva, Louisville's dynamic lead guard, scoreless in 23 foul-plagued minutes.
"He's a terrific player, obviously he's very fast, very quick, so it's a challenge," Starks said. "You don't want to make it mano y mano, but at some point you have to take pride in playing defense."
Because the Cardinals also play strong defense with a full court bent, Thompson used a small ball lineup with three guards, Porter or Nate Lubick as the lone interior option with Bowen rounding out the unit. That alignment, designed for better ball movement, was on the court when Bowen literally rose to the occasion.
"They’re the kind of team where you can’t worry about plays," Thompson said. "Players just have to play and make plays."
Bowen certainly did that. Remembering to shut off his cell phone comes next.