Everybody loves an NCAA tournament Cinderella story, right? Well, everybody except the higher seed that paves the way for some of those stories. Enter Georgetown, a team that has wound up on the other side of those feel-good stories the past couple of years. The Hoyas suffered early exits to the likes of Ohio and VCU in the past two tournaments.
Could they be ripe for another one? Georgetown was rewarded for a great season by earning a No. 3 seed, but its only reward is a date with Belmont, a team that provides a weird matchup and contrasting style. Coach John Thompson III says he understands why some people like Belmont as their Cinderella, but he likes the fact that his team is young with many players who weren’t around for the recent tournament upsets.
John Thompson III joined 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. with The Junkies to discuss getting the three seed, people picking Belmont as their upset special, preparing for a team that plays a contrasting style, taking a young team to the NCAA tournament, having veterans to share the stories of tournament struggles recently, if he’s happy with where the team is that and looking ahead in the bracket.
What was your reaction to the No. 3 seed?:
“I think you have a couple of seconds where you feel good. You get a three seed. Going into this season, in August, if you said, ‘Hey, we’re going to be sitting there on Selection Sunday thinking more about seeding than thinking about whether we’re in or not, I probably would have signed off on it right away. So you find out your seeding, find out who you play and you immediately start to get nervous, worried and learn as much as you can about Belmont.”
CBS’s Seth Davis said then that he likes Belmont as his sleeper to go to the Sweet 16. Do you use that as motivation?:
“Yeah, we had that discussion yesterday at practice. One thing that’s important, once you get to this time of year, and we’ve learned this the last couple years, the number next to your name is irrelevant. You have to play well. Every team is good; every team is playing well. Belmont’s won 14 games in a row. They’re on a roll. They’re a good team, a veteran team. So selecting them over us, I can see how people do that.”
How do you prepare for a game like this with such contrasting styles?:
“We’ve got to figure out how to stop them. They’re a very good offensive team. They’re scoring 82 points a game. So we’ve just got to get ready to guard them. They put you in difficult situations. … We actually played them a couple years ago in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Getting our guys geared up, if they can’t get excited, fired up to play this time of year, then they should hang up the sneakers.”
On taking a young team to the Big Dance:
“I think that we’re so young and I think that’s a good thing, to tell you the truth. We have so many people on our team that haven’t experienced this time of year. But I think we do have a sense of urgency about how we’ve been going about our business.”
But you have a couple of veterans. How important is it that they share with the younger guys their experiences, particularly the early exits?:
“That’s correct. I think they’ve done a pretty good job in the locker room, up in the dorms, of just explaining and making sure everyone understands how much it hurts, how hard it is to lose this time of year. … The good thing is our team, the current group, knows nothing about that. The current group has not suffered that, so there’s an excitement as well as an anxiousness.”
Are you happy with where this team is at right now?:
“Am I comfortable? No. Can we always get better? Yes. But I think this group knows what we have to do to win. I think that’s important this time of year. I think this group knows what our strengths and what our flaws are. … Am I comfortable heading into the tournament? I feel good about how this team can play. Sometimes you go in and you’re like, ‘Woo, we have to get lucky.’ To a certain extent, you always have to get lucky, but I feel pretty good about this group’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Do you look ahead in the bracket at all to see what could be coming next?:
“Very little. I kind of look as the NCAA tournament as three tournaments, three weekends. So, I just look at it one weekend at a time. We have Belmont up and if we’re fortunate enough to get past them, then you have the winner of NC State-San Diego State and I stop right there. If you get lucky enough to get past that, then you look as the possible three opponents for the following weekend.”