Saturday, December 12, 2009

Checking in with the Hoyas: Paying Homage

Georgetown defeated the University of Washington today, 74-66, in the John Wooden Classic. Two games every year are played to honor the The Wizard of Westwood, the greatest coach in the history of American sports, in my humble opinion: 10 titles in 12 years in an era when you couldn't even play freshmen.

I was worried about the Hoyas in the first half as they exhibited much of the same sloppiness they showed in the Butler game. But they really cleaned up their act in the second: fewer turnovers, fewer careless fouls, more patience in waiting for the offense to develop before taking shots, more offensive rebounds, etc. The adjustment is a strong testament to Thompson's coaching and bodes well for the rapidly approaching conference schedule.

There's no shame in winning ugly, of course, but the Big East is a completely unforgiving conference. It was a nasty league back in the '80s and it's only gotten worse since. Seven different teams in the league have won national titles: Connecticut, Cincinnati, Louisville, Georgetown, Villanova, Syracuse and Marquette. By comparison, the ACC only has four schools that have won it all.

As noted previously, Thompson's coaching pedigree is strong indeed. He learned from his father (JT2) and Pete Carril, both coaches who believe in disciplined execution. The trick, of course, is to convince talented players to buy into the system. Today's performance was encouraging.

Greg Monroe is going to be important this year, of course, but it's always good to see strong performances from the supporting cast. Today was a good one for junior forward Julian Vaughn who finished with a career-high 18 points. No seniors in the Hoyas' starting five, suggesting a bright future even when Monroe inevitably bolts early.

Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas is not related to the NBA great but is named after him. The story of his naming is on Wikipedia and it's a good one. He got the name when his father lost a bet. Full story at

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