When John Thompson III arrived at Georgetown to lead program his father lead to national prominence in the early eighties, the buzz was high and so were the expectations. Following up the run Big John Thompson had with trips to the national title game in 1982, a national title in 1984, and another runner up finish in 1985 the hype was warranted. Of course, too much is given; much is expected as it seems JT3 was handpicked after just a few years as head coach of his alma mater, Princeton. JT3 has had several excellent seasons with a mix of some of the DMV’s best talent i.e. Jeff Green, Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Roy Hibbert to name a few, along with a mix of the nation’s best talent i.e. Greg Monroe, Brandon Bowman, and most recently Otto Porter. But the success on the recruiting trail hasn’t led to success on the hardwood, especially in the postseason. Green, Hibbert and co. spoiled the Hoya Saxa faithful with a Final Four Trip in 2007 but Georgetown has done little since. Four tournaments, four loses to double-digits seeded teams and no Sweet Sixteens appearances.
As is always the case in the DMV, head coaches of underachieving teams in the fans eyes, such as JT3, find themselves on the heat seat with the media and in almost every barber shop across the city almost every year. The Princeton style offense which JT3 has brought to Georgetown makes him an easy target when the team struggles at any time during the season. Fans become familiar seeing thoroughbred athletes on Georgetown’s rosters all summer in summer league’s or area high schools all over the DMV; often making the assumption that what players do during the summer against phantom defenses and in high school would ever work consistently over the span of a Big East season against one of the nation’s toughest schedules year in and year out.
If anyone has paid close attention to the Georgetown program over the past few years (and even this year) can tell you that the Georgetown program runs more like a steady annuity than the volatile stock market with radical ups and downs that leave investors broke and in this case, coaches fired. Georgetown consistently ranks among the nation’s best in rebounding, overall defense percentages, assists per basket, and shooting percentage. In plain English, GTown players learn how to really play the game. When’s the last time you remember Georgetown beating a #2 ranked team and then losing to a Boston College like the team from College Park? Truth is, as boring as JT3’s teams can sometimes be, they learn how to value each possession and overachieve against some of the nation’s best talent which has consistently been located in the Big East conference. I'll take technique and substance over flash any day.
This year remains no different as Georgetown has somehow found themselves with a #11 ranking in the AP and Coaches polls and sit atop the Big East with Syracuse with a 10-3 record in conference. This weekend’s match-up with the Orangeman will probably be for a two seed in the tournament and the teams will meet again in early March.
Maybe a split against Orangemen will be just enough for JT3 to stay of the hot seat among local fans but please, let’s all do ourselves a favor and not force the most consistent coach in our area out of a job because clueless fans want more “showtime”. Let’s settle for the blue collar processes that reflect the majority of our local sports fans.