Georgetown Saturday Quotes

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --- Georgetown coach John Thompson III and players Jeff Green, Jesse Sapp, Johnathan Wallace and Roy Hibbert addressed the media on Saturday.

How important is tempo in this game? What kind of challenge will it be for you if North Carolina can get up and down the floor quickly?

ROY HIBBERT: We'll do our best to contain the fast breakpoints and control the tempo by slowing it down, make sure we won our offense, not taking bad shots and just using a lot of the shot clock.

For Jonathan, Roy and Jeff, as great as it is to get to this point where it's an opportunity to get to the Final Four, is it even that much more special, do you find a little extra excitement in that it's Georgetown North Carolina?

JONATHAN WALLACE: Yeah, I mean, just the same matchup, you know, has a lot of history in itself. We're just very excited to be at this point. It will be a great matchup. Two very good teams going head to head. Interesting to see what happens.

ROY HIBBERT: It's gonna be a real fun game, real aggressive. We have to be very aggressive from the start. It's gonna be a really, really tough game tomorrow. Very excited and we're just gonna play hard.

JEFF GREEN: Well, sum it all up, we feel good, you know, to be in this position, to go against North Carolina, especially all the history that's behind this type of game, North Carolina and Georgetown. It's gonna be a great matchup. Very aggressive game. Looking forward to it.

Roy, you've gone up against a player against a similar style to Hansbrough this year? Talk about trying to contain him and his physical, aggressive style of low post play?

ROY HIBBERT: Once the ball gets thrown into him, he's not passing it. He's very good around the basket. He's very good at getting his own rebounds. I'm gonna have my hands full. My teammates have my back out there. We're going to try to take it one possession at a time and make sure it's not a one on one game against any player but a Georgetown North Carolina game.

You haven't been an official underdog in more than two months. What's it going to be like tomorrow to play a team that for the first time in two months you're not supposed to beat on paper?

JEFF GREEN: Well, it's gonna be fun, you know. Like you said, past couple months we've always been that team going into the game that people think we're gonna win right away. It's gonna be fun. They have a lot of fans. They have a great fan base that comes to a lot of their games. We know it's gonna be a high intensity game. We don't feel we're underdog in this type of game, knowing the type of history they have, going into the tournament, we know everybody thinks they're gonna win. We know it's gonna be a tough game.

Hibbert, Green
ROY HIBBERT: Obviously, what Jeff said before. It's gonna be a tough game. It's gonna be fun. We're two seed, they're one seed. It's gonna be a great matchup tomorrow. We're just gonna go out there and have fun and play the Georgetown style basketball that we've been playing all year and grind it out.

1982, I think you were a junior in high school, Coach. What do you remember about the 1982 championship game between North Carolina and Georgetown?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I remember everything about it, and so I don't know if I have a sappy story that you want. But, you know, I remember everything about it. It was a tough game. You know, the thing that you just never know whether you're going to get to that point again. I remember thinking that after the game.

But, you know, I remember everything about that game.

For Jeff, how do you get into an offensive rhythm when you know they're going to be throwing so many different bodies and looks at you throughout the entire game?

JEFF GREEN: It's hard, you know, 'cause they're gonna be throwing double teams at you a lot, coming from different positions, the baseline, maybe the top. It's hard to get into a rhythm. I just got to have trust in my teammates and get it out of the double team quick. I have a lot of guys on my team that can step out and make the shot. I have to get it out there quick and I can find other ways to get into the game by getting offensive rebounds and tracking down balls. In those different ways you can get into the game, not just scoring.

This question is for Roy and Jessie. What is it about Jeff that makes him one of the top players in the country, especially top underpublicized players in the country?

ROY HIBBERT: I mean, he does everything. He plays, handles the ball well. He make sure he runs the plays, listens to coach, executes on offensive and defense. He gets stops, block shots. He's an all around leader on and off the court. In the locker room he's the first one to say we're okay. So if we're down or up, we've got to keep playing. He does our best to keep us going.

JESSIE SAPP: He's our team captain and our team leader on the floor. He's not afraid to take the big shots as you all know. Like Roy said, he does everything. He helps the guards out on the offense, you know, running the offense, and he helps out Roy and DaJuan in getting rebounds and doing little things that don't show up in the stats. That's what makes him a great player.

John, several of us here saw your game against Duke in Durham this year. When you left, you were 4 3. What happened to this team after that game to get to this point and get this run going?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: We grew up. And that's probably the only way to put it. That was early in the year, and we still were trying to figure out how we were gonna win. I've said all along, I've been consistent with this, that we want to continue to improve. And as the year progressed, we improved both offensively and defensively. So, you know, it's stating the obvious that the BIG EAST championships aren't won in February, NCAA bids aren't handed out in November and December. We just wanted to continue to improve.

I felt that by the end of the year we'd have a chance to be pretty good if we just kept improving and our guys have worked extremely hard and collectively we figured out how to win games.

Can you comment specifically on what the rate of improvement has been for Roy in his time at Georgetown, specifically this year, the ways in which he may have made the biggest strides on both ends of the floor?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I'm not sure. Roy, as with all of our guys, works extremely hard. Roy is an extremely willing player in that you show him something, he trusts and believes in what we're doing, how we're doing it. With his work ethic and his intelligence coupled with what he's being shown, he's made tremendous strides, and will continue to. He's far from where he's going to one day be.

Question for Roy. How unique is it and how good were the DC Blue Devils AAU national championship team and how neat is it for you to now compete against two of your former teammates?

ROY HIBBERT: I mean, it was fun times back then but, you know, I'm trying to still focus on Georgetown basketball. It's gonna be a fun matchup being able to see those guys out there.

We had some we played real well together back then but right now I'm all about Georgetown right now and making sure we come out with that win tomorrow.

John, growing up in the deep south like myself, there were only a couple of teams that pretty much everybody in the south followed; Carolina, Kentucky.

JONATHAN WALLACE: I didn't necessarily grow up as a Carolina fan, but pretty much all my friends did. That's the thing, like you said, everybody loves Carolina down south. It will be nice to match up against them come tomorrow night.

Roy, Brandan was wondering what your wingspan is. He knows his is 7'5. Do you have a measurement on yours, when did you start tracking it?

ROY HIBBERT: When you get to Georgetown and come on the recruiting trip, our trainer makes sure she weighs you and takes measurements on you. Mine is 7'4, so he got me. That's all I could say about that.

Coach, the Princeton offense grew famous, I guess, by taking guys who maybe weren't superior athletes and taking teams like Georgetown and Alonzo Mourning that had superior athletes down to the wire and beating some of those teams. It looks like you guys have taken the next step with it and are having extreme success with it and superior athletes. Can you talk about that and how it's worked?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I don't know if I agree with that in that for years the way we played at Princeton, you know, we were in a league, a conference where I don't necessarily think the guys that we had were not superior athletes. I think it's just I think too much is made of that. People say the Princeton offense, and what pops into people's heads are slow white guys that are gonna hold the ball for, you know, 35, 40 seconds and then take a three pointer and get a layup. Some of the teams, some of the teams, the teams I played on when I was at Princeton, we did that. But for the most part, you know, that's just a connotation, an image that comes up that I don't necessarily think is just when I say "the Princeton offense," you know, I just think of guys playing together, sharing the ball, talented basketball, talented, unselfish players.

So you say taking it to the next level, since Coach Carrill got to the Kings, you see the pros playing that way. I could sit here and rattle off teams, the Wizards, the Nets right here, the Kings, you look at what a lot of people say, European ball is very similar to what we do. It's not rocket science. It's not Earth shattering. It's having unselfish players that are extremely skilled.

Your earlier question was talking about Roy's development, having guys that are willing to become basketball players, not just a position instead of saying you're a one, two, three, four, five, let's just work on dribbling, passing, shooting and sharing the ball.

I know that what we do has been successful at this level. I know that what we do and how we do it can and is very successful in the NBA, which is the best athletes in the world. The word Princeton makes you lead in that question the way you did as opposed to watching how we're playing and moving and sharing the ball. You can have a lot of success at every level.

As you prepare for this ballgame, John, and go through this game in your mind, what is your biggest concern tomorrow night?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: Their players (smiling). You know, they're an extremely talented team. They do a very good job of imposing their will on the flow of the game. So just the biggest concern is just the talent level that they have and then the confidence.

Once you get to this time of year, I said this after the other day. Every team you play is playing well. Every team you play is well coached. If we can just come out and play well, we'll be happy.

Everybody talks about you and Roy for obvious reasons. Can you talk about what Jonathan and Jessie do for you guys?

JEFF GREEN: Those guys, you know, they control the team, you know. They bring the ball down the floor, call the plays and make sure everybody is where they need to be. In the previous games we had in this tournament, those have been the guys who have kept us in the games. They step up when they need to, you know. So they contribute a lot towards a team, and they are they give the success, you know, to us, when me and Roy are not doing what we need to do. They do a lot of things that people don't notice, but me and Roy still get a lot of credit when we do the little things. Those guys, Jessie and John, they control the team with their style of play and bringing the ball up the floor.

Wondering if you could talk about what you identified in Jonathan when you recruited him as a Princeton player and how that changed when you started talking about bringing him to Georgetown?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: It's the same, his character. Just the kind of person that he is, is why I wanted him when I was at Princeton, why I wanted him when we got to Georgetown. Just the person he is. You win with good people. Jonathan Wallace, and I wish I could take some credit for the person that he is, but it's his family, his parents. He's a person that I wanted around our program.

Jeff was just mentioning Brandan Wright has a longer wingspan. Can you talk about going up against a guy that's got 7'5 wing span and how that affects your game or not.

JEFF GREEN: Well, it's gonna be a tough matchup. He's very long, you know. He can come off the weak side, you know, get the ball in the air, you know, 'cause of his wingspan. So I just got to be able to try to keep him away from the basket. Can't let him get too close to the basket. If you do, he's gonna have an offensive rebound, tip dunk right away because he's so long.

I just got to be aggressive with him and try to keep him away from the basket.

Some of the other big games this season you've talked about being up late, Roy, watching games. Will you be up tonight watching the '82 game?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: No, no (smiling).

ROY HIBBERT: No, I won't be (smiling).

Have you seen the game?

ROY HIBBERT: I've watched it before. I mean, unless we don't have ESPN Classic in our hotel room so I won't be watching that unfortunately. So, no. I'll be in bed.


Coach, if I could just follow up on what you said about Jonathan. At first you weren't convinced necessarily he was a player in the BIG EAST level. What about him made you think that, and what changed? When did it happen, early on?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: Did I ever say I didn't think he was a player on the BIG EAST level? I just think that nothing changed. Just, as I said, Jon, I thought, I felt, would have success because I knew he would will his way through situations.

Jeff, how many times have you seen the replay of the winning basket last night, and did you travel?

JEFF GREEN: I knew it was coming soon.

I haven't seen it a lot. You know, I didn't go to the hotel and watch a lot of TV last night. I kind of got my rest, I was pretty tired after the game. I don't think I travelled. I let the officials referee the game. I'm not gonna say I made the call. They made the call. We won. That's what happened.

John, I know you said you remember everything about the '82 game. Where were you sitting? I assume you were at the SuperDome?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I was at the SuperDome. I was sitting right across from the Georgetown bench.

Last night in the first half Patrick Ewing was shooting a foul shot and the place goes wild. I'm sitting there going, "What's happening?" His father's face was on the overhead screen. How difficult do you think it is for him, the son of a legend, to follow in the same sport?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: He can answer that for himself, but I don't think it's difficult at all. Did he make that foul shot or did he miss it?

I can't even remember.

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: Okay. You know, I mean, I've said this relative to Patrick. He is very comfortable with who he is. He is very comfortable with who his father is. I don't think that it's difficult at all for him to be a basketball player at Georgetown University.

The last two years I think the highest point total in transition was 14. Connecticut got 14 on you at Connecticut last year.

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: You just trying to give them some incentive, huh?

How have you managed to do so well controlling tempo generally, and can you do it against this Carolina team?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I hope we can. Obviously, that's one of the keys to the game. You watch them play this year, and no one has been able to slow them down, you know. So you can expend all your energy talking about slowing them down, and they've been able to dictate the pace, dictate the tempo in every game. We have to hopefully limit our turnovers, which they do a very good job of creating turnovers, which enables them to run out. Hopefully we can do a decent job of getting guys back.

But even then, they're so talented. Tywon has a knack for penetrating through set defenses. You can be back and set and ready for him and he just has a knack of getting in there. Obviously, the guys they have on the wing and in the post are so athletic that they find seams and holes and alleys most people don't have. We have to be lucky tomorrow.

Just a follow up on the following a legend thing, Patrick Ewing plays a different position than his dad did. But you're the coach, following one coach removed from your dad who was a legend. How has that made it more difficult or comfortable for you?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: It is what it is, you know. Whether it's difficult or comfortable, I have a difficult job, and it would be regardless of who my father is.

So, you know, I am extremely I'll give the same answer about myself that I gave about Pat. I'm pretty comfortable with who I am. I don't go through the day thinking, "Pops used to have this job. He did that, he did this. I need to do that." The drive comes from within. We want to be successful. I want our program to win. That was true when I was at Princeton. It's true now that I'm at Georgetown. It's true if I was somewhere else. It is what it is. I'm pretty comfortable with who I am.

When you are 16 years old, sitting at the Dome, Jordan hits the shot, can you recall your emotions and how your dad handled it after the game?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: It's difficult to handle it because it's the national championship game. Like I said, people, all of the blood, sweat and tears, the luck, the work that goes into getting to that point, you know, and I remember thinking so much has to fall into place, you know, to get to that point, that you just never know whether that opportunity will come along again. I know that's what went through my head.

So, you know, if we're fortunate that the opportunity did come along, hopefully it will come along again.

How do you guys like to get a three point shot in your offense? Do you prefer to get it out of set offense? You mentioned everyone should be able to pass, dribble, shoot, does that mean anyone in your offense has the green light to shoot from three? Secondly, do you think it's time to move the line back, and why or why not?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: What was that first part again?

How you like to get three pointers in your offense?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: How do we like to get them? When they're wide open. That's the ones I like to get.

There's no set way, I don't think, a specific way of how we like to get them. I think with different sets, different players, we can get them different ways. Hopefully the guys, one thing we've stressed this year, everyone has a feel for what shots they can make and what shots they can take. I think that's one of the things, going into the year with our shooting, was key to us. So we did a good job of working on the specific shots that, you know, Billy can make this shot and Bobby shouldn't take this shot.

And so that's something that's specific to this year, not necessarily a theme in general.

Personally, I would not mind seeing the line moved back and the lane widened.

Can you say why or why not?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: Just I think it will open things up a little bit. I think it will create more of a free flow.

Last night you said Jeff makes good decisions. Has that always been the case? Has he always walked that fine line, a good balance between selfishness and unselfishness depending what the situation called for? Were there times you had to encourage him to be more selfish, make the best bounce pass possible?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: During the course of the year you have those types of discussions with all your players. As I said last night, his instincts are terrific and he makes good decisions and has since he walked in the door. As his comfort level at different spots on the floor has increased, you've been able to see that.

Back to the three point questions.

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: What's your story about?

Take a guess. Three point questions.

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I don't want to guess.

Three pointers. It's become a popular topic, especially in the tournament when it's one and done. Is there a strategy you like to have your team follow, and what are the variables that would go into it such as where the team maybe is rebounding the ball, anything that goes into it like that? Foul or not?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I'm gonna give you an answer that most coaches probably wouldn't give. I don't have strict rules and regulations on let's always definitively do this or not do this. It would truly depend on the flow of the game, it would depend who we had in the game, it would depend who we were playing. Some teams I would say maybe let's foul some situations. As most things I do sitting on the bench, it's just instincts I feel during the moment.

I'm not one of these guys that says, "Heck, yes, we're definitely gonna foul," or, "Heck, no, we're not." Or even what you started to allude to, if it's this point or that point. It's how I feel in that game.

Can you remember when you had to deal with that this season or past years?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: No, fortunately, and Barker left, he probably remembers more of our games than I do, I don't think we've been in too many situations this year, if any I may be wrong about that where that was a decision that needed to be made.

Coach, when you get to this point, is it more stressful or enjoyable?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: It's both, you know. We're extremely fortunate, and I'm extremely proud of our guys to be able to still be playing. There are eight teams left. I said it before last game, there's 16 teams left and we're one of them. Now there's eight teams left and we're one of them.

We've gone about, I've gone about the preparation for this weekend, for this game, the way I've gone about it for every game this year, and it's almost systematically. I said jokingly to a couple of people in here we can enjoy last night's win for the next two hours until we find out who our opponent is. Then after that, all of our energy for the next 48 hours is going towards preparing for that opponent, which is Carolina.

That is where we are right now. You can sit back and take stock. You have heard me use my Kenny Rogers gambler story, we're still sitting at the table. It's not time to start counting money and reviewing the season. We're focused. Our group is focused and putting all our efforts into preparing for a terrific Carolina team.

Obviously, this is a great opportunity, what every school strives for. As someone who grew up in the Georgetown program, is there something more special just about two programs like this meeting in a regional final?

COACH JOHN THOMPSON III: I'm not sure. I mean, obviously, the Carolina Georgetown '82 questions are flying around. I know from where I sit, I don't know whether Carolina people agree with it, I think our programs are almost like cousins. There's a lot of connections, going back to Pop's relationship with Coach Smith, you know, and just growing up. I went to two basketball camps. Most people travel all over the country. I went to Carolina's camp, I went to Georgetown's camp. You go through the process of being recruited. I took two official visits, one to Carolina, one to Princeton.

And, you know, that's a program in many ways, in many ways, that I feel close to. So it's because of what happened in the past in '82, does that make this game more special? I think it gives you guys a lot to write about, you know. Maybe helps you fill up the space a little bit, makes your job easier. But at the end of the day, we are two teams that both teams are playing very well right now, both teams are going to try to go out there and whether there's a connection, an affinity for each other, we're going to try to win tomorrow.

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