Georgetown Laying Low

By Josh Herwitt - October 24, 2007

NEW YORK -- With all the distinct personalities sitting around this room, John Thompson III's certainly isn't one that sticks out among the rest.

The fourth-year Georgetown coach, rather, has a soft-spoken nature to him, talking in almost a whisper to reporters surrounding his booth. So much so, I found myself fighting for position among the herd of media before nestling my way up to the front of the table.

And even though the Hoyas are in most people's minds the favorites to win the Big East with center Roy Hibbert returning for his senior season, Thompson has his players disregarding much of the preseason hype surrounding them.

"What I told them is where you're picked in the preseason is irrelevant," he said. "These guys have done a very good job of staying focused and knowing that the preseason rankings are irrevelant. we have to improve and that's one of goals. Our team has shown that we get better as the year goes on. Everything we do early in the year is to prepare us for league play."

That's because, as Thompson knows, the Big East rivals the ACC and Pac-10 as the toughest conference in the country. While some say it's due to the overwhelming number of teams now, Thompson rather points to the history and tradition that the Big East has captured over the years.

"When you look at this conference and the tradition of the programs, it's dauting," he said. "It's also what can make this league scary as a coach and as a player. In this league, you can see a different way to play basketball at a very high level, coached by someone that is very good and played by players that are very good.

"I think it prepares you if you are fortunate enough to make it through and fortunate enough to participate in postseason play."

Participating in postseason play won't be a question for the Hoyas. Winning a second straight regular season and tournament title, though, is another story -- one that the 7-foot-2 Hibbert ultimately came back to achieve this season with his teammates.

"It's a team effort," Hibbert said as the Hoyas hope to get back to the Final Four for a second straight year. "It's not just one person that's going to fill the void. Everybody's going to have to contribute."

With an experienced backcourt that includes Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp and also welcomes highly-touted freshman Chris Wright, Georgetown isn't just a one-man show with Hibbert in the paint.

"Obviously people want to focus on me," Hibbert said. "We have really good shooters. It's going to drag people out and give me more one-on-one chances in the post. But then if I get hot, they'll start collapsing on me and part of being an unselfish player and a good Georgetown player is being able to pass the ball and see those guys [on the perimeter]."

Spreading the scoring out wasn't something that Georgetown had a problem with last season, even with now-departed Jeff Green leading the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game. If anything, that's certainly something that Hibbert is capable of matching in 2007-08.

"We have to play together and make sure we pick up the slack that he left off," he asserted.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 01:21 PM on October 24, 2007

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