Thompson Brings Promise to Struggling Georgetown Program

Editor’s Note: The following column appeared in the March 17, 1972 edition of The Hoya and is written by former Sports Editor Dave Kopech (CAS `73).

By Dave Kopech Hoya Staff Writer

With the naming of John Thompson as Head Basketball Coach, Georgetown has taken a bold step to remedy one of the many problems of the past few months. Thompson seems to be the type of person who will be able to cut through the rhetoric and problems that plagued Jack Magee as coach.

Thompson will mostly bring a new dimension to Georgetown basketball. He is a strict disciplinarian who will not tolerate anyone who does not give his all. Discipline is one of the things many found lacking in the team this year and in the past. Usually the team could be found spending more time at Chadwick’s than in the gym.

Judging by Thompson’s reputation at St. Anthony’s, the Hoya hoopsters better do their boozing this summer because Thompson maintains that,” they’ll never last through practice if they go drinking the night before.” This seems to be just what the doctor ordered, since the Hoyas were anything but disciplined this year.

Thompson’s basketball career began here in Washington when he starred for three years at John Carroll High School. He was All-Metropolitan there for three years while Carroll won 56 straight games (including a victory over the Georgetown freshman.)

There is a good reason why Thompson is a strict disciplinarian. As a player he played for two of the most disciplined coaches in basketball, Providence College’s Joe ullaney and the Boston Celtics’ Red Auerbach.

Mullaney’s influence on Thompson is extensive. He compiled the second-best all-time win-loss percentage in college basketball. His best teams were those which “out-defensed” their opponents. While under the expert coaching of ullaney, Thompson and the Friars went to two National Invitation Tournaments.

From Providence, Thompson traveled 40 miles north to the Hub. While there, he was a substitute for superstar Bill Russell. At Boston, Thompson was coached by Auerbach, who was considered one of the toughest to play for but whose record is fantastic. Under Auerbach’s leadership, the Celtics were the perennial National Basketball Association champions. While Thompson was with the Celtics (1964-66), he played on two World Champion teams.

From his past experiences, one can see why Thompson has compiled such a tremendous record at St. Anthony’s (122-28). Thompson has always been connected with winners. The Georgetown job is his first engagement with a proven loser; hopefully Thompson will be able to change all that.

Among the many things Thompson learned from ullaney and Auerbach was that a team without pride is a team that cannot possibly win. Thompson’s biggest challenge will be to instill pride into his team. This year, the Hoyas were beaten so badly early in the year that they were never really able to play the type of basketball they were capable of playing. Part of the reason was that the team suffered a psychological letdown. Thompson will have to teach and refresh his team with pride in both their team and in themselves as individual ballplayers.

Another of the problems that Thompson must face at Georgetown is his lack of knowledge of the school both physically and internally. Since Thompson is not acquainted with too many students or faculty, it is thought that he will hire at least one assistant that could serve as liaison in those areas.

Assistant Coach Ed McNamara would seem to be an ideal choice since not only does he have coaching experience, but he was also a player and a student at Georgetown, which would enable him to serve as both coach and liaison.

Thompson does have some things to work with. His coaching and playing reputations are well known both here in D.C. and in the New York-New England area. He also will be able to garner the aid of friends to help with recruiting. It has been reported that Thompson has already asked for Bill Russell’s aid in this regard.

John Thompson has proven thus far in his sports career to be one to rise to any challenge that avails itself upon him. Georgetown and its basketball program is by far the greatest challenge Thompson has ever had to face; but judging from the past one can only conclude that the future should bring success not only to Thompson but to Georgetown basketball as well.

 

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