Last Sunday, the Georgetown men’s basketball team upset a versatile, second-seeded Ohio State to send the Hilltop into a frenzy. The win—which sent the Hoyas to their first Sweet Sixteen in five years—is just one success, on the road to many more, for what has become an exemplary college basketball program. With a reserved passion emanating from coach John Thompson III, the Hoyas have demolished expectations and represented their school in a positive way by excelling on the court and in the community.
It all begins with a sense of family among the players and the coach that brings about a higher level of play, and that Georgetown has so dearly missed since the days of Big John.
“To me, he’s like a father figure,” senior forward Brandon Bowman said of Thompson III during the preseason. “He’s always telling me about the little things, like sitting up straight. He’s constantly telling me things about life way beyond basketball. It’s like having a parent away from home.”
That composure can be seen on the court, too. In the midst of March Madness, the Hoyas have been consistent within their Princeton-inspired offense, sharing the ball and providing Joe and Jane Hoyas alike with thrills while they survive and advance in the national tournament.
They are deliberate and selective with their shots, possessing the third-highest field-goal percentage in the Big East. This percentage is not the result of one superstar upon whom the Hoyas’ fate rests. Instead, the scoring among the Blue and Gray is decisively spread out. In a game based around the concept of team, especially at the collegiate level, the Hoyas are the prototype. Their three leading scorers and front-line trio of senior forward Brandon Bowman (11.0 points per game), sophomore forward Jeff Green (11.8 ppg) and sophomore center Roy Hibbert (11.6 ppg) are all within one point of each other in terms of scoring average.
The Hoyas’ system is one predicated on ball distribution from every player. It’s one of the few offenses in the country that has its leading scorer, Green, double as its leading assist man. It’s also one of the few programs that is comfortable with having its seven-foot center stand 30 feet from the basket looking for back-door cuts and assists of his own.
For the Hoyas, however, this distribution of services isn’t limited to action on the hardwood. John Thompson III took part in the All Coaches Care relief effort after hurricane Katrina in order to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity.
Thompson and his team gave their time this year working with the SEED school—one of the nation’s first public, urban boarding schools. There they spoke with students about pursuing their goals and the importance of education in preparation for college.
The Hoyas’ ability to be simultaneously aware of their surroundings on the basketball court and in Washington, D.C. allows them to capitalize on their status as Georgetown’s most noticeable representatives. Their unselfishness in the community and rediscovered excellence on the court make them the premier symbol of Georgetown as a Catholic university committed to communicating knowledge and promoting a better world.