OVERRIDE

The Perfect Game

How Villanova's Shocking 1985 Upset of Mighty Georgetown Changed the Landscape of College Hoops Forever

Frank Fitzpatrick

Thomas Dunne Books

Critically acclaimed veteran sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick takes readers courtside for one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history, the 1985 Villanova/Georgetown national championship showdown

 

A veteran Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Frank Fitzpatrick has long followed and covered Villanova basketball.  In all that time, nothing compares with the Wildcats' legendary 1985 upset of Georgetown—a win so spectacular and unusually flawless that days after its conclusion, sports columnists were already calling it “The Perfect Game.”

 

The game, particularly its second half, was so different from what observers expected—so different, in fact, from what anyone had ever seen that a shroud of myth almost immediately began to envelop it. Over the years, the game took on mythological proportions with heroes and villains, but with a darker, more complex subtext. In the midst of the sunny Reagan Administration, the game had been played out amid darker themes—race, death, and, though no one knew it at the time, drugs.

 

It was a night when the basketball world turned upside down. Villanova-Georgetown would be a perfect little microcosm of the 1980s. And it would be much more. Even now, a quarter-century later, the upset gives hope to sporting Davids everywhere. At the start of every NCAA Tournament, it is recalled as an exemplar of March’s madness. Whenever sport’s all-time upsets are ranked, it is high on those lists, along with hockey’s Miracle on Ice. Now, through interviews with the players and coaches, through the work of sociologists and cultural critics, through the eyes of those who witnessed the game, Fitzpatrick brings to life the events of and surrounding that fateful night.

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CHAPTER ONE
 

We must control the tempo of the game.
—final comment in Villanova’s title-game scouting report on Georgetown
One vote.
That, at least for those who understood college basketball, was Villanova’s real margin of victory.
If an April 4, 1984, NCAA Rules Committee vote to add a forty-five-second shot clock beginning the following season had been 9-4 in favor instead of 8-5, the Wildcats’ 1985 championship might never have happened. Had a shot clock been utilized in the 1985 NCAA Tournament, the number of land mines on Villanova’s
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Perfect Game

Praise for Frank Fitzpatrick

Praise for The Perfect Game

 

“A veteran Philadelphia sportswriter revisits the thrilling 1985 NCAA national championship basketball game… [Fitzpatrick] insightfully deconstructs the racial framework surrounding the game, the appalling bigotry aroused by Thompson’s disciplined, unsmiling, walled-off Georgetown team, and he reminds us of the cultural impact of the Hoya-inspired boom in athletic merchandising and the merger of hip-hop and basketball.  An unforgettable game recalled in all its glory, but with its warts remembered too.” --Kirkus

“Fitzpatrick profiles all the key players as well as the coaches, tracks the schools’ journeys to the finals, and provides an appropriately breathless account of the game, which was one of the last to be played without the three-point shot or a shot clock. Ranked as one of the greatest upsets in college basketball, the 1985 title game continues to give hope to underdogs everywhere. A very intelligent bit of basketball history.” --Booklist

“The Villanova Wildcats’ victory over the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1985 NCAA men’s basketball championship remains one of the greatest surprises in sports history… Veteran sportswriter Fitzpatrick (And the Walls Came Tumbling Down) is at his best weaving the stories of the two schools and their basketball personnel.” –Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Lion in Autumn

 

"[Fitzpatrick is] intent on demystifying the college football coach, moving beyond the spectacle of Saturday afternoon to reveal flesh and soul and humanity." -- Buzz Bissinger, New York Times

 

 “Fascinating. . . . One of the best books ever written on the rise and fall of a great college football coach.” —Allen Barra, San Francisco Chronicle

 

 "A rather startling success ... [Fitzpatrick] relies on his own tenacity and attention to detail with just the right amount of historical perspective." --Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

Praise for And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

 

"Brilliant." —ESPN.com

"An admirably researched account of the barrier-shattering championship game that slam-dunked segregated college basketball. . . . Fair but devastating in its portrait of persistent prejudice, this is a landmark account of a landmark event." —Kirkus Reviews

 

Praise for You Can’t Lose ‘Em All

 

"A fascinating look inside team dynamics ... Afine baseball book, sure to be savored by fans for years to come.” --Booklist

 

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Frank Fitzpatrick

  • FRANK FITZPATRICK has been a sportswriter for The Philadelphia Inquirer for more than thirty years.  He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and his numerous awards include first place from the Associated Press Sports Editors in the Best News Story category.  He is also the author of Pride of the Lions: The Biography of Joe Paterno, as well as And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Kentucky, Texas Western, and the Game That Changed American Sports.  He lives in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

  • Frank Fitzpatrick Charlotte Fitzpatrick
    Frank Fitzpatrick
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The Perfect Game

How Villanova's Shocking 1985 Upset of Mighty Georgetown Changed the Landscape of College Hoops Forever

Frank Fitzpatrick

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Thomas Dunne Books

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