Georgetown Basketball: October 2006 News Archive
Former Georgetown letterman Ron Blaylock (B'82) will be honored this weekend with the Samuel A. Halsey Jr. Award at the at the annual Patrick Healy Dinner. For more details or to register for the dinner, please visit the Homecoming page at the Alumni Association web site.
Georgetown enters its centennial season ranked #8 in the ESPN/USA Today pre-season basketball poll, as per this link from ESPN.com.
Other Big East teams ranked in the top 25 include Pittsburgh (#5), Marquette (#17), Connecticut (#18) and Syracuse (#20).
Fox Sports has a feature on the three centers expected to battle for top honors in the Big East this season.
"When I first saw him in a high school summer league game, I'd never seen anyone that big," junior forward Jeff Green said of Roy Hibbert. "He was a big, goofy guy. The improvement he's made over the last couple of years is amazing. It's due to hard work."
The article also notes that Hibbert had "Hoya" in his e-mail address dating back to high school. That's not surprising, of course, since he went to Georgetown Prep, the "Little Hoyas".
Pittsburgh and Georgetown shared honors at the annual Big East media day Wednesday.
The Panthers received 10 of 16 first place votes to lead the Hoyas, who were picked second in the poll with four first place votes, followed by one vote apiece for Syracuse and Marquette. An unofficial preseason writer's poll conducted by the Syracuse Post-Standard picked Georgetown as the pre-season favorite, with 10 of 16 first place votes.
Two Georgetown players were selected to the first team all-conference selections, with Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert receiving the early honors.
Here's the rundown of both polls, with first place votes in parentheses:
Three schools were picked in both polls to finish out of the 12 team Big East tournament come March: Rutgers, Seton Hall, and South Florida. It's no predictor, though: last year, for example, only two of the four teams predicted for the bottom actually finished out of the tournament.
So how have previous coaches polls matched the final season standings? Here's a comparison over the past two seasons:
Links from various dailies follow below. (The Providence Journal is not included because it requires registration to view its stories.)
USA Today talks to head coaches John Thompson III and Ronny Thompson (C'92) on the brothers' first ever meeting as opposing coaches on Nov. 27.
My father didn't like to play guys who he was friends with because of the strain, but it's my brother," Ronny told the paper. "I'll be angry with him for the 2½ hours of the game, and then we'll be fine."
"It's one of those situations where John Thompson (as) Ronny Thompson's brother, thinks it's a horrible game," coach Thompson said. "But John Thompson, the coach at Georgetown, thinks it's a game that make sense."
Thornton averaged 25.2 points per game as a senior at Wilmington's Caesar Rodney HS but played sparingly his freshman year at Georgetown, scoring ten points in six games. He saw action in only two Big East games, playing three minutes each against Cincinnati and St. John's.
"We respect his decision, appreciate the contributions he made while he was here, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors," said Coach Thompson to the Post.
"Georgetown is an excellent institution,” said Thornton in a Monday interview with The HOYA. “It has nothing do with the school. It's in my best interest to find the best opportunity to go elsewhere.”
Thornton will remain enrolled through the end of the semester. “It's a completely personal decision. There was nothing [at issue] from coaches or players,” he said.
In 100 years of Georgetown basketball, one would be hard pressed to recall such a busy week of recruiting announcements among top local players committing to Georgetown University.
Last Thursday, guard Chris Wright, ranked as the #3 rising senior in Washington area basketball, made a verbal commitment. On Monday, forward Chris Braswell, ranked as the #2 junior in the area, offered a commitment. Thursday, the top ranked junior in the area verbally committed to Georgetown's class of 2012, according to reports.
Jason Clark, a 6-2 guard from Arlington's Bishop O'Connell HS, has made a verbal commitment to join the Georgetown class of 2012, according to DC Metro Hoops.com and other recruiting web sites. Clark averaged 17.7 points per game and was named a third team All-Met as a sophomore, the only sophomore named to the all-area teams.
Wrote DC Metro Hoops.com: "The Hoyas have arguably landed the top four players in the tough WCAC conference: Austin Freeman (DeMatha 2007), Chris Wright (St John's 2007), and Chris Braswell (DeMatha 2008) have also given the Hoyas verbal pledges."
"I don't ever remember this many local kids going to one place,” St. John’s coach Paul DeStefano told the Washington Examiner. “John Thompson [III] is capitalizing on Georgetown's reputation. A school with both the academic and basketball traditions they have isn't a hard sell. It's pretty obvious that Georgetown is back.”
Georgetown cannot comment on any recruits until they sign a national letter of intent, which can occur as early as November of the prospect's senior year.
In the week following Midnight Madness, two more recruits have announced verbal intentions to join the Hoyas in the coming years.
From the high school class of 2007, 6-6 senior Omar Wattad announced a verbal commitment to Georgetown late Monday. "The tradition there is amazing," said Wattad in this link to Tri-Cities Sports.com. Wattad attends Science Hill HS in Johnson City, TN.
"Everything there is amazing. It's Georgetown," he said.
In other news, Chris Braswell, an all-Met junior from DeMatha Catholic HS, has verbally committed for the University in the 2008-09 academic year, according to the Washington Post. Braswell is a teammate of Austin Freeman, who verbally committed to Georgetown last season.
Georgetown cannot comment on any recruits until they sign a national letter of intent, which can occur as early as November of the prospect's senior year.
Students and fans were treated to the ninth annual Midnight Madness at McDonough Gymnasium late Friday evening.
The women's team was introduced at about 11:15 pm Friday, followed by the men a half hour later. Each member of both teams brought a few dance steps to center court before coach John Thompson III spoke to the sold out crowd.
"This is the 100th year of GU basketball," Thompson said, "and when you talk about the 100 years, we've got to pay respects to the best...Patrick Ewing."
The lights went up at McDonough to welcome the former All-American himself, who made his first public appearance at the gym since his playing days. Ewing hugged his son at midcourt to the roars of the crowd.
"When I was here, we didn't have Midnight Madness, the bands, the dancing, the music," said the elder Ewing, a 1985 graduate of the College. "I like the school spirit here tonight."
Photos from the event can be found in this link, originally posted on the HoyaTalk board.
The daily newspapers had extensive coverage of the Hoyas in Friday's editions as a prelude to Midnight Madness events going on at many local schools. Some excerpts:
"Shortly after midnight tonight, the Georgetown men's basketball team will trot onto the floor at McDonough Arena," writes the Washington Post. There will be a John Thompson (III) standing on the sideline. There will be a Patrick Ewing (Jr.) wearing jersey number 33 on the court. And there will be expectations and a buzz surrounding the program that hasn't been felt since the first John Thompson and the first Patrick Ewing were winning games for the Hoyas."
From the Washington Examiner: "On the heels of their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001 and with the return off All-Big East forward Jeff Green and center Roy Hibbert, it appears the Hoyas will be the best team in the area entering their first official practice Friday at midnight. Not only has Georgetown risen back to the top of the local field, the Hoyas are in most national experts’ preseason top 10 and a common pick to make their first Final Four appearance since 1985."
And the Associated Press notes that "It's been quite some time since Georgetown was a year-in, year-out factor in men's basketball. Coming off last season's breakthrough trip to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 under coach John Thompson III, the Hoyas could be back to national prominence on a regular basis."
Also on the links this week: the Washington Post sports blog..er, "bog" from reporter Dan Steinberg. With coverage of Midnight Madness and some humorous jabs at everything from the cost of parking at the Leavey Center to how Patrick Ewing Jr. got to wear #33, it looks to be a good read for anyone following local college basketball this season.
Also new to the blogosphere: a regular article by leaders of the Hoya Hoop Club. It's still a little hard to find from the front page, but it is available via this interior link.
In the first installment, HHC representative Steve Thomas (F'97) sets the scene: "Those of you who have made your Hoop Club donations and ordered your season tickets know that, attendance-wise, this should be a big year for the Hoyas. With record Hoop Club membership and tons of positive press on the Boys in Blue and Gray, Verizon Center will be the place to be this basketball season."
Coach John Thompson III welcomed a large crowd to Gaston Hall Wednesday to talk about the upcoming basketball season.
"We're evolving now," Thompson told the audience in this link to the Georgetown Voice. "We're amidst an evolution, sometimes confused with a revolution.”
When asked about scheduling, Thompson was up front. "There is nobody with the exception of Princeton that I won’t play. That is true of all the local schools," he said.
Built in 1949, Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse is fan-friendly, landlocked, and obsolete, a lot like its sister gymnasium in Washington. But as Georgetown has maintained a lack of public commitment on renovating its aging gymnasium, St. Joseph's University announced a $25 million renovation plan Wednesday for its flagship athletic facility.
The four year project will increase seating and construct a 17,700 foot practice facility for $25 million, a figure not much more than the amount proposed for a renovation at Georgetown widely discussed in 2000.
St. Joseph's president Timothy Lannon, S.J.'s quote is particularly illustrative:
"With respect to athletics, the choice became very clear. We could wait untold years for the $60 million necessary to fund and construct a brand-new arena, or we could undertake immediate plans to leverage the [campus] into the most important upgrades our varsity and recreational programs need and, quite frankly, deserve - and deserve now."
Basketball season must be around the corner, as former Washington Post columnist John Feinstein is back to his annual exercise of criticizing Georgetown for not appearing in the tournament which he founded.
At an online chat Wednesday, Feinstein remarked that "We've been trying to get Georgetown -- we as in the people who run the Children's Charities Foundation and the BB&T Classic -- have been trying for years to get Georgetown to participate. George Mason, George Washington and Maryland have all been willing participants and have played each other. Georgetown has completely stonewalled us."
Local fans familiar with this "good cop, bad cop" game know the drill. Georgetown shows periodic interest in the tournament, but Maryland coach Gary Williams then publicly states he won't play Georgetown in a neutral game without a home game at College Park first. Owing to its longstanding relationship with Maryland officials, the BB&T committee politely chooses to invite other schools instead. This, of course, allows Feinstein to stand on the soapbox for another year.
Chris Wright, a guard from from St. John's College HS, announced a verbal commitment to Georgetown Tuesday. Wright averaged 21.8 points per game last season.
"In my playing days, Georgetown has not been that great, but all the alumni talk about the Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Allen Iverson days and how great it was, and I noticed that there was something there once they beat Duke this past year and made it to the Sweet 16 in the tournament," said Wright at a St. John's press conference, per this link to DCSportsFan.com. "I feel as though we'll have a shot to win the championship my freshman year, if not this year.”
Wright, the #6 ranked point guard in the class of 2007, had verballed to North Carolina State last season but changed his commitment after Herb Sendek was released as head coach last spring.
Georgetown cannot comment on any recruits until they sign a national letter of intent, which can occur as early as November of this year.
Additional links follow below:
The Georgetown women's basketball team will receive a rare national television appearance on CSTV this season, as the Big East conference announced a slate of women's games to receive national and local coverage.
The Hoyas' Jan. 30 game with South Florida will be covered by the CSTV network. A Feb. 10 game vs Marquette at McDonough Gym will be covered by an to be determined regional cable network; unfortunately, the game is scheduled the same time the men's team meets Marquette on ESPN.
Georgetown returns four starters from last year's 10-17 team.
Junior center Roy Hibbert is looking forward to the next two years of Georgetown basketball, as per this link to Tuesday's Washington Times.
"Last year's team belonged to those guys. This year is different. This squad belongs to our junior core of players, and I'm going to be more vocal because I'm part of that leadership," Hibbert told the Times. "I guess the best way to put it was that last year I was focused on improving myself. This year I'm focused on improving my team. I'm dedicating the next two years of my life to getting another national championship banner hanging in McDonough."
Hibbert's size and rising national interest have made him the subject of various NBA draft scenarios as early as 2007, but Hibbert was clear that his pro future comes after graduation, not before.
"I'm totally committed to staying here for four years because I love Georgetown and being a student here," Hibbert said. "My dream was always to have people talk about me as one of the great ones in Georgetown's line of centers. I watch tapes of Patrick and Alonzo and Dikembe, and that's the epitome of what I want to be. That's a four-year project. And hopefully after four years, I'll have a chance to be mentioned in that company."
In conference news, Notre Dame has announced a $24.7 million upgrade to the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, built in 1968.
"These upgrades and additions will give it a completely new identity, as a showcase facility for our athletes and teams for the decades to come," said ND athletic director Kevin White. "Our plan is to create a state-of-the art facility for both the student-athletes and the fans who watch them compete." Of the $24 million budget, $22.7 million has already been raised.
The building will be renamed the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in recognition of a $12 million gift by Philip Purcell '69, retired CEO at Morgan Stanley.
Facilities remain the Achilles heel of Georgetown athletics, which are at a distinct and growing disadvantage against every other Big East program. As more conference teams have invested in on-campus and/or dedicated practice facilities in recent years, Georgetown has not.
With the arrival of college basketball next month, there a number of new blogs covering the Big East. One of interest: Fox Sports columnist Jeff Goodman, who writes in this week's edition that a league-wide meeting of Big East assistant coaches will take place in Philadelphia. Among the topics, according to Goodman, "the abundance of negative recruiting that is ongoing throughout the conference."
Georgetown alumnus and NBA owner Michael Heisley (B'60) has announced plans to sell his 70 percent stake in the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies for $360 million to an investment group led by former Duke player Brian Davis, reports the Associated Press and numerous news outlets.
Heisley purchased the team in 2000, then located in Vancouver, for $160 million.
"I put a lot of time and a lot of money in this franchise. But I look at it and say, 'Am I the person who can best take this team to the next level?' I don't think I am the person who can do as good a job as Brian can do," said Heisley. "I'm almost 70 years of age, and I'm not going to suddenly be out there high-fiving with players. He will."
Davis, who attended Bladensburg HS outside Washington, played at Duke from 1988-92 and in the NBA during the 1993-94 season, before forming a real estate company in Durham, NC. According to business news reports, Davis and fellow Duke alumnus Christian Laettner will contribute $40 million to the purchase, as well as a number of unnamed investors.
One of Georgetown's most important constituencies are the parents who support their children in games every week. Sunday's Boston Globe takes a look at how those family ties have shaped Glenn Rivers and his family. Rivers, father of Georgetown freshman Jeremiah Rivers and head coach of the Boston Celtics, opted not to move his family from Orlando to Boston and instead committed nearly $200,000 in air fares to stay closer to his family.
Here's one example: "I got to Lakeland Saturday, watched my son's game, then flew right back to Los Angeles," said Rivers. "I landed around 11:30 Saturday night. The next morning, we had a team meeting at 10 a.m., then went out and beat the Lakers. Then we flew home to Boston."
"It's not the perfect way to live, but it's the right way," he said. "I know there are Boston fans out there who think I should live up there. But if it comes down to upsetting a million people in Boston, or the five people in my family, I'll figure out a way to deal with the million."
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