Thompson’s Departure Doesn’t Affect Team

By Michael Medici Hoya Staff Writer

When people think about Georgetown basketball, John Thompson will always be there. Undeniably, all of the fruits resulting from the men’s basketball team came because of the man. He was Georgetown basketball. Like Dean Smith at North Carolina, Bobby Knight at Indiana and John Wooden at UCLA, Thompson single handedly brought his program to dominance and kept it there year after year.

But now, he’s gone. The program, however, continues. The players who came to the hilltop to play for the legend Thompson now must battle as he sits and views the game as a fan, sans towel.

And battle they have. The team, obviously fueled by the emotion of the rather sudden decision, has come to the floor with inspiration and drive their three times out since Thompson left.

One day after he left, the team, under new head coach Craig Esherick, beat a solid Providence team at MCI Center 75-70 on Sat., Jan. 9. Two days later, the team traveled up to adison Square Garden in New York and nearly stole one from the then-11th-ranked team in the nation, but fell just shy in losing 71-69.

Esherick said following the game that it was the Hoyas best rebounding performance of the year. The team then capped off their whirlwind week by losing to No. 18 ranked Syracuse by two. Fighting and scratching all game, the team just couldn’t muster the necessary baskets down the stretch.

So, player reaction seems to have been somewhat positive, however suprising and confounding that might be. Thompson will forever be known as the developer of dominant big men. Ewing. ourning. Mutumbo. The big men of this years team have especially stepped it up since Thompson left. Just look at the numbers.

In the Hoyas’ first four Big East games, all under Thompson, senior Jameel Watkins and Sophomore Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje combined at most for 16 points. Against Providence, Boumtje-Boumjte scored 10 points and ripped 13 boards alone. St. John’s saw the two combine for 25 and Watkins led all players with 12 rebounds.

Against Syracuse, the two shot a combined 10-for-17 and scored 24 points. At a critical moment late in the second half, Boumtje-Boumtje sent shot-block specialist Etan Thomas’s two-handed dunk attempt to the rejection pile himself. Thomas killed the Hoyas last year at MCI Center, but this time around could only manage four field goals and scored nine points.

Playing with take-care-of-business attitude on the floor, the players have been talking in much the same fashion.

“We have to put this behind us, the incident that happened, we have to stay focused,” said Nat Burton following the Providence victory. “Throughout the season there will be challenges and obstacles that you have to face and the only way you can get through them is by focusing.”

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