The Van Buren Boys

The Blogosphere's best source for the latest analysis and
commentary from the world of Georgetown Hoyas basketball.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Georgetown fertility

Okay, so this is not even tangentially related to Hoya Hoops, but I could not resist.

Mom-to-be Christina Aguilera is making like Demi Moore and Britney Spears – displaying her bare belly in a revealing cover photo for the January issue of Marie Claire magazine. She also reveals even more in the interview, saying pregnancy wasn't really on her mind when she found out she and husband Jordan Bratman were to become first-time parents.

. . . .

Aguilera believes the moment of conception occurred when Bratman – a music executive whom the singer married two years ago – visited Georgetown during a tour stop, when she had one month of physically challenging concerts still left to perform. (Her Washington, D.C. concert took place in early April – which could conceivably mean the baby's due in January.)

Former Hoya Hoopster Dies

Former Hoya basketball player and United States Congressman Henry Hyde passed away this morning in a Chicago-area hospital. He was 83.

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace.

A Solid Win

After a close, stomach-churning first half, our Georgetown Hoyas won handily last evening at Old Dominion University, 66 to 48. As the best Georgetown beat reporter, Barker Davis writes in his column for The Washington Times you can chalk this one up to solid defense from the Hoyas; something that might become the hallmark of this years's squad. The Hoyas held the Monarch's to 31.3% shooting and there were periods in the game where ODU could not hit the broad side of a barn, let alone a basket.

That being said, what the hell was up with Gerald Lee in the first half? The 6' 10" Fin ended the game with 24 points and 12 boards -- including 10 offensive boards. He was pretty much unstoppable in the first half, scoring 16 of ODU's 23 points. PE2 did a good job tightening up the D on him in the second half. But he still scored 8 points there.

Here are a couple of other thoughts I had about last nights game.

1.) I am very concerned about Macklin. Roy has been a fairly good job staying out of foul trouble, but last night he had to come out of the game with 4 fouls with over 5 minutes left to play. By that time we had a comfortable lead so it wasn't a big deal. But I am worried that in tougher games it's going to be a problem. Macklin ended the game with a decent line (6 points on 3-6, 2 rebounds, and an assist). But all three of his baskets were dunks and I believe they were all uncontested. He had a nice roll of a pick for one of those dunks, but if he defender had moved with him I am not confident that he would have made it. The official line only has Macklin turning the ball over once, but that doesn't match what I heard last night. During the first half I was listening to the game on the radio. Chvotkin reported that 3 times in the course of about 2 minutes that Macklin was stipped of the ball. Granted, Chvotkin messes up the call a fair amount, but this would be consistent with what I've seen from Macklin all season. If he can slide behind a defender along the baseline and get a clean pass he can normally finish. But if he has to play with his back to the basket in the lane he almost always fails to score. Most of the time he turns if over. Watch this next game. You'll see that I'm right.

2.) I'm also a little concerned with DaJuan. I was really hoping that he would build on his strong tournament performances and step up this year to fill the gap that was left by Jeff Green's jump to the NBA. That doesn't seem to be happening. He is averaging 7 points and 6.5 rebounds a game, but I don't feel like he is ready to take things to that next level. Last night didn't convince me otherwise. It was pretty much a stinker from Summers. He was 0-5 from the floor and at times seemed pretty much invisible. That kind of disappearing seemed to happen a lot last year too. Let's hope that we can chock this one up to it being early in the season. But if the Hoyas are going to replicate last years success DaJuan Summers needs to step up.

3.) Austin Freeman is ready. He looked great last night. I had though Chris Wright was going to be the freshman that made the most immediate impact on our team, but I think I'm wrong. Freeman did it all. He dunked, he shot the 3-ball, he had a nice assist. He finished the game with 11 points on 5-7 shooting and just looked fantastic. Kudos, Austin.

4.) One of the things that I was most happy to see was how the Hoyas started to play once they got a little bit of breathing room. It was then that we saw the Princeton Offense really start to click. Georgetown started to play grind-it-out, possession basketball at the pace that works best for the team. This did not go unnoticed by the opposition. Monarch's coach Blaine Taylor commented on this very fact after the game. He noted that "Georgetown is really in a comfort zone when they get ahead. And when you give them the lead, you're in for a long night." That is consistent with what we saw last year and makes me confident that this year's crop of student-athletes are understanding how to play to our system's strength.
That's all for now. Bring on Fairfield.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Old Dominion Point Spread

Georgetown is currently a 7.5 point favorite in tonight's game.

Bob McDonough, rest in peace

The university has announced that one of its greatest benefactors, Robert McDonough (F'49), has died. Bob McDonough, after whom the McDonough School of Business is named, was a huge supporter of Hoya hoops. I'll never forget his offer to students who traveled to California see the Hoyas play Maryland in the 2001 Sweet 16 that he would trade his luxury box seats to jump around with the kids close to the court. I actually attended the ceremony at Georgetown on Bob McDonough day when the Business School was officially named after him. He seemed like a gentleman through and through. And he loved Georgetown and the Hoyas. God Speed!

They say it is not about revenge

but for me it is all about revenge. I was at that debacle last year in McDonough. Georgetown gave ODU 1/6 of all of the tickets in the arena and so we actually did not have the home court advantage everyone was expecting. And their fans were as close to the court as any of ours. Not a good deal. They got louder and louder as ODU hung around and finally went on a run in the final minutes of the game to put it away. That game was definitely the low-point of an otherwise stellar year. Tonight's game should be payback. But the reality is that Georgetown is poorly built for these contests. First, the Princetown offense does not accentuate a big time program's comparative advantages when playing a mid-major. We limit the number of possessions (increasing the chance of a fluky outcome) and there isn't as much running and gunning (decreasing the role of athleticism). This is great when you are playing Duke or Pitt or UNC. But it is not so good when you are playing ODU or even a team like Ball State. Second, early in the season, the players are still getting comfortable in the complicated offense. It usually takes until league play for everything to click. The turnaround from JTIII's terrible loss against Temple in his first game as a Georgetown coach and the win at ranked Pitt several weeks later is case in point. Having said that, this is a veteran club and we should expect it to be focused and ready to go.
Hoyas to Pay Norfolk a Visit

In the happy aftermath of Old Dominion's surprising victory over nationally ranked Georgetown last season, Coach Blaine Taylor expressed his appreciation to the Hoyas, not just for playing them last November but also for also agreeing to travel to Norfolk this year. "It probably sets the stage for a nice rematch," Taylor said after the Monarchs' 75-62 win at McDonough Gymnasium, the Hoyas' tiny on-campus arena. But Georgetown Coach John Thompson III doesn't view tonight's game as a chance to avenge last year's upset. "I don't talk in those terms," Thompson said. "That being said, our guys know they came here and beat us last year. . . . There haven't been any rah-rah speeches; I'm not good at those anyway. It's a test, it's an early-season test on the road, and that's what we want." The fifth-ranked Hoyas (3-0) should get that against Old Dominion (3-3), which is coming off back-to-back losses to No. 1 North Carolina and then-No. 6 Louisville. The Monarchs are expecting a capacity crowd of nearly 8,500 at Ted Constant Convocation Center. Different programs take different approaches when putting together a nonconference schedule; with Thompson, "it's strictly a case of trying to put us in a position to be ready for league play." That means taking the Hoyas on the road. In Thompson's first three seasons as coach, the Hoyas played nonconference games at Oregon, Illinois and Duke. They also traveled to Davidson, Navy, James Madison and Fairfield. Georgetown, which has already played at Ball State, still has games at Alabama (in Birmingham) and at Memphis to play. Second-ranked UCLA, on the other hand, will play only one true road game (at Michigan on Dec. 22) before opening Pacific-10 Conference play in January with trips to Stanford and California. In the Big East, Syracuse has been known for soft nonconference slates that rarely take the Orange out of New York; this season, they will travel to Virginia (Dec. 5).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doc and Jeremiah Celebrate Thanksgiving Together

Today's Boston Globe reported that current Boston Celtic head coach Doc Rivers returned to Florida to celebrate the holiday with his family. Jeremiah was expected to be in attendance. Happy Thanksgiving to Doc, Jeremiah, and all of the Georgetown Hoyas.

Family ties on the schedule
Rivers ready for home cooking

By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / November 22, 2007
Celtics coach Doc Rivers and forward Paul Pierce are looking forward to celebrating their favorite holiday today.

The Celtics are taking today off to celebrate Thanksgiving. Rivers said he was celebrating the holiday with wife, Kris, and his family at his offseason home near Orlando, Fla. Jeremiah Rivers, a Georgetown University basketball player, is expected to attend. Callie, a University of Florida volleyball player who is at a tournament in Long Beach, Calif., is the only one of Rivers's four children who cannot attend.

More on Hollis

First, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Second, we shot poorly from the outside and from the free throw line against Ball St. Am I concerned? No. We won the game in a very hostile environment and probably were a bit distracted due to all of the crap that was going on off the court. Chalk it up as a W and move on.

Now, on to Mr. Thompson. This is a huge (although not unexpected) pickup for the Hoyas. According to the LA Times: "No player rose faster among the national elite during the summer than Thompson, whose ability to shoot and rebound caught everyone's attention. He's still growing and still getting better." He will almost certainly make the class of 2009 JTIII's fourth class in a row with at least one McDonald's All-American.

I also want to point out something that I mentioned in my piece on Georgetown and Duke last month. Mr. Thompson fits the profile of the type of student-athlete that JTIII has made a point of recruiting. That is, he is both a student and an athlete. Hollis attends one of the best Jesuit high schools in the country and maintains a 4.2 grade point average. Thus, it appears that both he and Greg Monroe could have gained admission to Georgetown without basketball skills. This is remarkable considering how incredibly skilled and athletically gifted these guys are. Also, like Monore, Hollis made clear that academics are a major priority in his recruitment. The top contenders for his services: Stanford, Duke, and UCLA. In fact, reportedly, his decision came down to Georgetown and Stanford. So to recap, great athlete, great student, and Duke loses an other one. Hoya freakin' Saxa!


The Washington Post is reporting that Hollis Thompson, a 6-6 junior forward from Los Angeles (Loyoa High), made an unofficial commitment to Georgetown yesterday. This is the first verbal commitment that the Hoyas have received for the class of 2009. ranks Thompson as the 11th best overall prospect in the class of 2009 and the 2nd best small forward in the class. ranks Thompson as the 24th best prospect in the class of 2009. According to, Thompson was also being recruited by Duke, Stanford, Florida, North Carolina Arizona and UCLA. Thompson was among the recruits that attended Midnight Madness at McDonough at the beginning of this season. I guess Jerry Rice's rendition of the Soulja Boy dance was more persusaive than I orginially thought.

Thompson noted that the recruiting process had already been very long and that he wanted to get his decision out of the way so he could stay focused. In making his decision Hollis Thompson explained that, "[w]hat I really liked about John Thompson was that he told me he doesn't recruit positions, he recruits players."

Welcome to the Hilltop Mr. Thompson.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ball State Point Spread

The Hoyas are a 21.5 point favorite tonight. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Now That We Have Him, How Long Can We Keep Him?

Now that Greg Monroe has officially signed with the Hoyas, the question becomes how long we can keep him on the Hilltop. JTIII has done a good job keeping players in the program. Roy Hibbert, of course, is the best example of this. But often times there are other considerations that need to be factored into the equation.

Loyal reader Joshua pointed out that Greg's mother, Norma, has worked two full-time jobs since 1999. She often works 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. six days a week at the post office, then 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. five days a week as a teacher's assistant. She goes home to make sure that Greg has a meal when he returns from school or practice, and then catches a few hours of sleep before starting all over again.

I may be wrong, but this makes me doubt that Monroe will be a Hoya for four years. If his family is in financial distress and he has the opportunity to help alleviate that distress by turning pro he may very well take that opportunity the first chance he gets. Indeed, given the high character that most commentators attribute to Monroe, you would assume that he feels responsibility for his family's well being. I can't say that I could blame him for taking steps to take care of a mother who has obviously worked hard to take care of him.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Down Goes Padgett reports that Louisville senior center, David Padgett fractured his right knee cap in practice last week and is out for at least 10 weeks and, possibly, the rest of the season. You have to feel bad for Padgett, who has been riddled with plagues during his entire collegiate career.

The Cardinals were relying on Padgett to give them some experience and size on the court this year, and his absence should definitely hurt them. One would assume that Padgett's injury will help the Hoyas in their question to repeat as Big East champs.

USA Today on Greg Monroe

There is a great story in USA Today that says about about Greg, his Mom, and JTIII. Recommended reading.

Basketball recruit Monroe stays humble amid praise

"For whatever reason, we didn't have a lot of upperclassmen there, and Greg was there with JV kids," Helen Cox coach Tyron Mouzon says. "I don't know how many No. 1 players in the country would do that. He's the ultimate team person. He never feels he is too big for anyone or anything. "That unselfish attitude extends to the court, where the 6-10 Monroe is a gifted player who can play multiple positions, as willing to pass the ball as he is to work for an offensive rebound. Next season he will take his skills to Georgetown. He signed his national letter of intent Friday, his mom's birthday. "I got the feeling that (coach John Thompson III) wasn't trying to sell me anything," Monroe says. "Everything was straightforward. The way he talked to me was the same way he talked to his players." Monroe averaged 19.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and three blocks a game during his junior season. In his first game this season, Monroe faced double- and triple-teams and scored seven points. But he collected 15 rebounds and blocked four shots in that 53-44 win against O.P. Walker (New Orleans) High. Monroe picked up his scoring in Cox's second game, finishing with 20 points in a 52-41 victory Saturday against Holy Cross (New Orleans) High.

Thompson, who was the last major coach to start recruiting Monroe but connected immediately with him, understands what he's getting. "He's an important piece to what we're doing here," Thompson says. "He's a very unselfish player with the ability to help himself and his teammates." The left-hander can rebound, block shots and run the court, thrives on accumulating assists and possesses a soft mid-range jumper. It's not unusual for Monroe to grab a rebound and dribble down the court, leading the fast break. "Greg is one of those guys who is blessed with a tremendous amount of physical attributes," recruiting analyst Dave Telep says. "At his size, you want to cast him as (an inside) presence. "What Greg is is a versatile, new-era big man. The next step, because he's so talented, you want him to be dominant all the time. He's growing into that role." Monroe is the top recruit for a Georgetown class that is ranked in the top five by and after the early signing period. It is another step in Thompson's plans to make the Hoyas annual contenders. Center Henry Sims, forward Chris Braswell and guard Jason Clark, all in's top 100, also signed with Georgetown. "Last year, Georgetown retooled the backcourt," Telep says. "For 2008, they overhauled the frontcourt with the No. 1 player and two guys who will grow together. This package plays off the 2007 class extremely well. "Georgetown is losing guys to the NBA and not dropping off."

Monday, November 19, 2007

He's awesome. Period. End of story.

Such was the reaction from Jester after viewing a recently-posted highlight video of Mr. Greg Monroe (who, incidentally, has officially signed with the Hoyas). You can get one free viewing of the video on rivals. Just click on Greg Monroe Highlights 8. Greg displays a full game--including absolutely sensational passing. I'd be psyched if an incoming guard could pass and finish like Greg. But he's a 6'10 center!!! Remember, you only get one free peak from, so pay attention!

Ball State Drama

The local press in Muncie, Indiana ran an interesting article about this Wednesday's Ball State game. One would hope that the Hoyas will easily rout the Ball State Cardinals. Ball State is a small time program in tatters. Georgetown has aspirations of playing for a national championship. But the acrimonious departure of Ronnie Thompson from the head coaching job at Ball State, among a flurry of NCAA violations and allegations of racial harassment, covers this contest with an extra layer of drama. While Ball State officials do not expect the game to be a sell out, and while student attendance should be low since the dorms will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday (Tuesday is the last day of classes), the Cardinals' powers-that-be are still doubling their courtside security for the game. The Gannett News Service is also sending one of their national columnists to cover the game. Apparently, some people expect the ill feelings that the Ball State community harbors towards Ronnie Thompson may spill over to his brother and his brother's team. Let's hope that is not the case.

And let's hope for a solid trouncing of Ball State.

For the full article from the The Star Press, click here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Patrick Ewing Returns to the NBA

While watching tonight's Celtics-Magic game (which, by the way, was an unbelievable game even though Boston wound up on the wrong end of this one), I noticed Patrick Ewing sitting on the Magic bench. He is back as an assistant coach and was essentially brought in to work with Orlando's young prodigy Dwight Howard, much as he did a few years ago in Houston with Yao Ming.

This of course means that Patrick Ewing sightings at Verizon Center this season will be few and far between or perhaps non-existent.

NY Post Picks Hoyas To Win It All

The New York Post this morning predicted that JTIII and the Georgetown Hoyas will be cutting down the nets in San Antonio in 2008.


Unlike last season, when the Hoyas weren't a known commodity, they won't surprise anyone in '07-08. Georgetown and Louisville were the preseason picks to win the Big East title. Georgetown won the regular-season and tournament titles last season. "When you go through an experience like that, we know how hard and how tough it was to get to that point, let alone exceed that point," guard Jonathan Wallace said. "It leaves a taste in your mind. It's a bittersweet taste." The Hoyas are not an eye-candy team such as Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina or Kansas, which can score in streams. Their Princeton offense is as monotonous as a leaky faucet - drip, drip, drip. "I have to remind our guys, especially this group, there are no 15-point plays," Thompson said. "People have a tendency to get anxious, 'We're not up by X amount points."' "We have methodically pulled away from teams. If we pull away from them, that's how we do things," he added. "We just slowly grind it out."

Which is what the banner-raising ceremony felt like for Thompson. He does not live in the past or the future. Asked after the William & Mary game if he liked the banner but would prefer a more prestigious one being raised next season, he needed several minutes to grasp the question. "Should it be gray instead of blue?" he asked. No, Thompson was informed, it should be the Hoyas' second national championship banner. "I was a little slow, that's what you meant by the wrong banner," he said. "I don't think in those terms. Let's get better today. If we get better, if we improve, we'll pick our heads up at the end of the year and see where we stand." Thompson should be standing on a ladder in the Alamodome, cutting down the nets and wondering how long such a moment can last.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The Hoyas totally overpowered Michigan last night. I was particularly pleased by the play of Vernon Macklin, Chris Wright, and Austin Freeman. While they all made mistakes, Macklin showed supernatural athleticism and good court presence, Wright showed his shooting and penetration, and Freeman shot from the outside and rebounded well. Hibbert had an off night, but it didn't really matter. Great game in terms of getting experience for the guys who will constitute the future of the program. And just let me state for the record--Jesse Sapp is a baller. He has taken a big step forward and will be huge for the Hoyas this year and next. Hopefully, the IPB will weigh in with his thoughts. Oh yeah, and Jeff Green's mom was there. And, finally, I have to big props to the students. Two games into the season this is probably the best student participation the Hoyas have seen since .... ever? Keep it up guys.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Michigan Point Spread

Georgetown is a 14.5 point favorite vs. Michigan, but I defer to the Stallion's expertise as to what will actually happen tonight.

Hoyas on ESPN

Saturday, November 10, 2007

William & Mary Point Spread

Finally, the long awaited GU-William & Mary point spread is available - Georgetown is a 22.5 point favorite today.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bring on the Tribe!!!!!

Per The Hoya, Wright will be in action and Pat Ewing Jr. will be starting.

Go Hoyas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Springing Back Into Action

On the Hoyas’ side, freshman guard Chris Wright, who broke his foot in a pick-up game in late September, will be ready to play, as will sophomore guard Jeremiah Rivers, who suffered the loss of his grandfather last weekend. Missing though will be freshman forward Nikita Mescheriakov, who will have to sit out the first 10 games of the season because he participated on a European pro team while he was still in his native Belarus. While Thompson is quick to remind reporters that no one can fill Jeff Green’s shoes, the question of who will take his spot in the starting lineup, for the first game at least, has been answered. Fifth-year forward Patrick Ewing will get the nod to make his first start at Georgetown.

Campus Press

In case anyone missed it, the Hoya and the Georgetown Voice have their annual basketball previews available on-line. Like all things related to Georgetown Basketball, these issues are better than they have been in year. Great profiles of the players and coaches. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Great Roy Profile in The Courant

This is one of the better articles on Roy. I've read.

Roy Has Risen

"It's been a lot of work," said Hibbert, who has had nice scoring and rebounding increases in each of his previous three seasons. "People used to say things but you keep working at it, you know? I didn't get discouraged. I spent a lot of time in the weight room getting myself in shape and I'm continuing to work hard because I want to get better, but offensively I just kept working the same shot over and over. My hook shot, until it came naturally. But this year, I'd say defensively I have to step it up to help make up for what we lost with Jeff Green [joining the NBA as a junior]. "From 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds a game as a freshman, which he could have fallen out of bed to average because he was so big, to 11.6 and 6.9 as a sophomore to 12.9 and 6.9 last season on a team that advanced to the Final Four - it has been a nice progression for anybody who has watched Hibbert's development. "His willingness from day one," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "He's been someone that is extremely focused as it relates to his individual improvement and our team's improvement. He's extremely intelligent. He understands what you're telling him and that, coupled with his God-given ability - he's big; I mean, he's huge, and has good hands and is a bright person with a terrific work ethic, much like I like to say about our team. He has methodically gotten better over the last four years." And I'll tell you what, he's just getting started. You're going to see him a couple of years from now and I'm confident you're going to see him even more improved because he's already significantly better now than he was last year. "Hibbert had some great games last year, but the fact that he outplayed No.1 pick Greg Oden in the Final Four has people salivating about where he could go in the draft this year. Hibbert had 19 points, six rebounds and a block to Oden's 13 points, nine boards and a block. "I guess it's nice that my stats were better but if I had my choice, I would have liked to had won the game," Hibbert said. Many expected that since Hibbert was hot - and big - that he was going to go pro. Thompson III went on a fact-finding mission for him and Green to see where NBA people thought they might go in the draft.Hibbert wasn't being considered a lottery pick and that may have had something to do with his return. Green did get selected in the lottery, at No.5, and went to the Celtics, who then traded him on draft night to Seattle. "We have a good team coming back this year so I said I want to get my degree; what's one more year?" Hibbert said. "The NBA is there but my senior year won't last forever. I feel the experiences I have had already, I'm having a good time so far and the season hasn't even started yet. "When it does, it will start in earnest because the Hoyas, based on Hibbert's return, are a national title favorite. So what can we expect from the ever-developing, ever-improving Roy Hibbert? "You'll see a lot more defensive play, blocking the shots, getting more rebounds, just making up for what Jeff Green brought us," Hibbert said. "I've been working hard in the weight room, trying to slim down a little more. I'm always in the weight room."

BE Tourney

finally, a BE tournament that includes all teams. maybe it causes a few upsets, but all DI schools should have a chance to dance.

Nikita Out For First 10 Games

This has to be the lamest excuse for an NCAA suspension in history. Before entering American high school he played for a short period with a professional team in Europe but received no compensation for it. As a tennager in Belarus is there any chance that he had any idea that this rule existed?! Comm'on!

Freshman ruled ineligible for 10 games

Georgetown University Men's Basketball Coach John Thompson III announced today the Nikita Mescheriakov has been ruled ineligible for the 1st 10 games of the season. "Prior to coming to this country," Coach Thompson said, "Nikita briefly participated with a professional team in Europe. He was not compensated but the NCAA has ruled that he will have to sit out the first ten games of the season." The 6-8, 205 lb forward from Minsk, Belarus will be able to practice with the team but cannot play before the Fordham game at the Verizon center on December 31.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bush Honors Former Hoya Hoopster

First Mutombo and now Henry Hyde receive recognition from President Bush. Bush awarded Hyde the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Here is some of what he said:

Congressman Hyde spent more than three decades as a towering figure on Capitol Hill. But he first made his name in Washington more than 60 years ago. He was on the Georgetown basketball team, and played in the NCAA Eastern Championship game in 1943. After college and Navy service in World War II, he returned home to Illinois, and earned a law degree, and made his way into politics. This erudite, scholarly man has walked with kings and kept the common touch. He won 20 elections, and gave steady service to the people of Illinois for 40 years. In the House, Congressman Hyde rose to the chairmanship of two committees, judiciary and international relations. And from the first day, he was a commanding presence, and he was a man of consequence. Colleagues were struck by his extraordinary intellect, his deep convictions, and eloquent voice.

Post and Times have season previews today

Barker still does not think that the Hoyas will wind up missing Jeff that much. I agree that Georgetown does have an all-around better team. But who will take the big shot? That's the question. Wallace can do so on a set play, but can't always create. I think DaJaun, who has shown a knack for drawing fouls, may become out go-to guy, but I'm not counting out Wright or Freeman.

Sound environment

Even without Jeff Green, Georgetown begins its quest for a Final Four encore blessed with the Excalibur of experience. Entering this week's hoops season tipoff, virtually every media outlet has weighed in on the Hoyas' hopes with some variation on the theme of life after Green. Last season's Big East player of the year averaged 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. And after Green's leap to the NBA, much has been made of how the Hoyas would replace such a player. In fact, too much has been made of the post-Green void. The reality is that Georgetown's overall roster is deeper, more balanced and more talented this season. And most importantly, the Hoyas have a profusion of perhaps the most valuable commodity in college sports: experience. Among the 25 teams ranked in the preseason AP poll, only No. 12 Oregon boasts more returning starts in its potential opening-game lineup than the fifth-ranked Hoyas. Led by fourth-year starting point man Jonathan Wallace, whose resume features more starts than any other Division I player (102), the Hoyas feature a seasoned cast coming off the added experiential bonus of a Final Four appearance. The most remarkable thing about Georgetown heading into the season isn't who's missing; it's who's back. The Hoyas return four starters and eight of the nine principal pieces from the squad that swept both Big East titles en route to a 30-7 campaign and the school's first Final Four showing since 1985.
. . . .

"Nobody is going to take Jeff Green's position," Thompson said. "I'm not sitting here having watched tapes all summer saying, 'How are we going to fill Jeff Green's void?' This is a totally different group with different strengths, different weaknesses and different players. ... Even the same guys are totally different parts. [Sophomore forward] Vernon Macklin, for instance, is a totally different player this year than he was last year. Collectively, we'll figure out the mix and approach that gives us the best chance for success." Perhaps the biggest difference between last season's squad and the current Georgetown crew is that Thompson and Co. have far more options in terms of both personnel and style this season. Entering last season, Wallace was the team's only proven ball-handler and perimeter shooter. This season, the team has three proven ball-handlers in Wallace, Sapp and reserve guard Jeremiah Rivers and three proven gunners in Wallace, Summers and Sapp. Throw in the heralded local perimeter duo of McDonald's All-Americans Austin Freeman and Chris Wright and the Hoyas feature a far deeper backcourt than last season. That should give Thompson the freedom to run and press without foul concerns this season, as well as giving him more lineup options against the league's traditionally guard-centric teams (Marquette and Villanova). The upshot is that even without Green, the Hoyas enter this season with far fewer question marks and more experience. And while that doesn't necessarily translate into a deeper run in the NCAA tournament, it does mean that Georgetown has fewer hurdles on its way to becoming an elite-level team. Said Thompson: "Can we be better than last year? I don't know, but I certainly hope so. I do know that we definitely have more pieces and more options, and that gives us the opportunity to be better."

Powell's piece in the Post discusses what JTIII has accomplished in such a short time at Georgetown. It is one of those articles that makes we very happy that they inked the contract extension!

These Coaches Lead, And the Wins Follow

So Thompson III and Pitino are at the forefront of the Big East, which has always been a coaches' league, its identity forged in large part by the men who stood on the sidelines and won with distinct styles and big personalities. "I think Dave Gavitt [a founder of the Big East] said it best: The NBA is about the name on the back, and the college game is about the name on the front," Tranghese said. "When the NBA introduced the hardship rule, we were all worried about the effect of that. I think what it's proven to us is it's reinforced the brand name, which is Georgetown/John Thompson, Connecticut/Jim Calhoun, Syracuse/Jim Boeheim." It isn't easy to coach in the Big East, with its sheer size, variety of playing styles, and experienced coaches. The conference added two new coaches this season: Bob Huggins, who has the sixth-highest winning percentage among active coaches (.737), takes over at West Virginia, and Stan Heath, who led Kent State and Arkansas to the NCAA tournament, was hired by South Florida. Their arrival means that 14 of the 16 head coaches have taken a team to the NCAA tournament, and the only two that haven't, Rutgers's Fred Hill and St. John's Norm Roberts, were assistants on NCAA tournament teams. Six coaches have coached in the Final Four: Connecticut's Calhoun, Syracuse's Boeheim, Huggins (at Cincinnati), Pitino (at Providence, Kentucky and Louisville), Thompson III and Marquette's Tom Crean.
. . . .
Both the Hoyas and Cardinals have great players and great depth this season. For Georgetown, it's been a relatively quick process to get to this point. In Thompson's first season (2004-05), the Hoyas' rotation consisted of essentially seven players, none of whom were seniors. Now, Georgetown has an established core of players, led by senior center Roy Hibbert, a preseason all-American, and senior guard Jonathan Wallace -- both of whom were in that first seven-man rotation. "It's incredible just how quickly and fast his program has risen to national prominence again," said Heath, who faces a steep challenge in building the Bulls' program (four conference wins in two seasons). "You've got to give him a lot of credit for retooling the program into a national powerhouse." Pitino was well-established as a strong recruiter when he came to Louisville, after the success he had at Kentucky, but Thompson was an unknown quantity coming from Princeton. His first recruiting class didn't pan out -- only one player from that group, junior guard Jessie Sapp (National Christian), is still with the program -- but his subsequent classes have been impressive. The Hoyas now have three McDonald's all-Americans on their roster: sophomore forward Vernon Macklin and freshman guards Austin Freeman (DeMatha) and Chris Wright (St. John's). Next year's recruiting class will be Thompson's strongest; he has unofficial commitments from four players rated among the top 100 seniors in the country, led by forward Greg Monroe, the No. 1 rated player according to Thompson weighed heavily in Monroe's decision to commit to the Hoyas over Duke, Connecticut, LSU and Texas. "He was a pretty big factor," Monroe told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He's a very intelligent man. He's very professional. He runs his program the right way. He's very hands-on. He's a very, very impressive coach, a very good coach, probably one of the best ones out there right now." No team has won more Big East games (regular season and tournament) over the past two seasons than the Hoyas, who are 28-10. "I think he's an unbelievable coach," Marquette guard Jerel McNeal said of Thompson III. "He makes it hard on the opponent, starting with the type of offense that they play, and getting the best shot selection and at the same time, letting his more talented players make plays. He's done an incredible job. He's definitely one of the premier coaches in the league and the country."

Monday, November 05, 2007

ESPN Reviews Big East Recruiting

ESPN observes that the Big East has been doing exceptionally well on the recruiting trial--highlighting Cinci, DePaul, L-ville, UConnvict, and the Hoyas. For the whole article, click here.

Big East recruiting displays high level of intensity

The Hoyas had a top-10 recruiting class in 2007 complete with three ESPN Top 150 recruits -- 6-3 combo guard Jason Clark (Arlington, Va.), 6-10 C Henry Sims (Baltimore, Md.) and 6-8 PF Chris Braswell (Chatham, Va.). However, this class transformed from good to great, potentially vaulting into the No. 1 spot, when coach John Thompson III received a verbal pledge from top-10 prospect 6-10 PF Greg Monroe (Gretna, La.). Greg Monroe moved up to the No. 4 ranking in the latest ESPN 150.Monroe became the fourth ESPN 150 recruit to join the Hoyas and has the ability to easily perform any task on the basketball court. He has great ball-handling skills for a player of his size and can connect on the jump shot consistently out to about 15 feet, though he can knock down the 3-point shot. The lefty can also score in the post, though he likes to operate in the mid-post to utilize his superior athleticism on bigger, slower defenders. Monroe also blocks shots very well and runs the court adeptly. Sims and Braswell also block shots and rebound at a high rate. Monroe, along with Sims and Braswell, provide the Hoyas with a talented triumvirate of big men who can make an immediate impact, which JT3 will need with the 2008 departure of Preseason Big East Player of the Year C Roy Hibbert. Monroe has the ability to develop into the top prospect from the 2008 class as well as the best NBA player from this recruiting class. Preseason All Big East pick PG Jonathan Wallace will also graduate in 2008, therefore the explosive Clark should make early contributions to Georgetown in 2008. Clark has the offensive skills to create his own offense, deftly scoring off the bounce. He also rebounds the ball well for a guard and plays intense pressure defense. With this talented crew coming to Georgetown, Thompson has the talent to lure even more highly coveted prospects to Washington, D.C., including Top 150 player Chris Singleton (Duluth, Ga.).

JTIII foundation

The Post has a great story this morning about John and Monica's philanthropic efforts.

Taking Time Out for a Good Cause

"John and his father have always been about providing the tools through education and other means for young adults to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get ahead in life," said Leonsis, vice chairman emeritus at AOL and a trustee of the university. "I said, 'Pick causes that are meaningful to you and are authentic to what you stand for.' " Education, Monica Thompson said, was a natural cause for them, given her husband's upbringing in Washington and his commitment to Georgetown. As a breast cancer survivor, she also is interested in promoting better health care for at-risk women and families. And finally, they wanted to engage in a way that wasn't exclusively high-society. So when the John Thompson III Foundation held its first fundraiser on a September weekend, it opened with a panel discussion at Georgetown University on the state of intercollegiate sports. The couple then hosted a block party and health fair at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Anacostia, followed by a $500-per-ticket black tie gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The events made money, though Monica Thompson said the final tally is pending. The Thompsons assumed much of the administrative costs and will give the proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, Capital Breast Care Center, Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, and Washington Jesuit Academy. "You see young kids who make mistakes because they don't know any better and how, if they don't have strong parental guidance to help them, how that makes it so much harder for them," she said. "But you take a child who is from a disadvantaged environment, if you give that child the proper skills and access to broaden their knowledge and be educated and go on to college, you then create the ability for that person to improve their circumstances and you create a productive person in society." She will serve as the foundation's executive director and only staff member, and won't take any salary for the work. It's a good segue for her, since she was a fundraiser for Princeton University for six years, focusing on large endowments and gifts.

For more information about the JTIII foundation, please visit

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Passing of Jeremiah's Grandfather

Today Jeremiah Rivers' paternal grandfather--Grady Alexander Rivers Sr.--passed away in Chicago, IL. The VBB's condolences go out to the entire Rivers family.

Celtics coach Rivers leaves team after learning of father's death

Associated Press

Updated: November 4, 2007, 7:42 PM ET

TORONTO -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers left the team before Boston's game Sunday against the Raptors after his father died in Chicago.

The Celtics said Rivers left Toronto on Sunday morning. Grady Alexander Rivers Sr. was 76. There was no immediate word on the cause of death and funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

Doc Rivers


"It was a tough, emotional morning, I'm sure, for the whole Rivers family," guard Ray Allen said. "I hadn't had the chance or the pleasure of meeting Doc's father but I can tell how much he meant to Doc by his words this morning. Our hearts went out to him."

Assistant Tom Thibodeau replaced Rivers and the Celtics held off Toronto to post a 98-95 overtime victory behind 33 points from Allen and a 23-point, 13-rebound effort from Kevin Garnett.

"Thib did a great job tonight," Garnett said. "He's a defensively sound kind of guy."

Thibodeau joined Boston this season, moving from the Houston Rockets. He acknowledged the pressure of stepping into the top job.

"Obviously, when you're an assistant you're making suggestions," Thibodeau said. "When you're the head coach you're making the final decision and there are a lot of decisions to be made. Some work out well, some don't, but it's coming at you fast."

Beating Toronto to improve to 2-0 meant a lot to Thibodeau and his players.

"Our thoughts are with Doc and so that makes it special, the fact that we were able to win for him," Thibodeau said.

Forward Paul Pierce said he was also thinking about Rivers.

"My blessings go out to him," Pierce said. "I've never been through anything like that. We wanted to come out here and get the win for him."

A 13-year NBA veteran, Rivers became the 16th coach in Celtics history on April 29, 2004, and won NBA Coach of the Year honors as Boston went 45-37 and won the Atlantic Division title in his debut season.

Now in his fourth season with Boston, the 46-year-old Rivers has led the Celtics to a 103-144 record.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hoyas #5 in Pre-Season AP

The Hoyas are in at #5 in the preseason AP poll, just as in the Coaches' Poll. Interestingly, the Hoyas got 1 first place vote. UCLA, Memphis and North Carolina were the other schools receiving first place votes.

Roy! Roy Roy Roy! Roy Roy Roy! Roy!

Just to get everyone pumped up for the season, here's an interview with Big Roy and his entrance from Midnight Madness.

Georgetown's Hibbert among handful of college stars who bypassed NBA for now

Ask Roy Hibbert why the heck he's still a student at Georgetown instead of banking millions of some NBA team's dollars, and the 7-foot-2 senior sounds a bit like the politician he thinks about becoming one day. He speaks earnestly about taking responsibility for his decision. He looks you in the eye while talking about wanting to "finish off my four-year plan." He mentions the importance of getting a good education. Then again, it also took Hibbert less than 10 seconds into an interview with The Associated Press this week to drop a reference to having "a shot at a title." By which he meant, of course, an NCAA championship, a prize that has eluded the Hoyas for 23 years, although Hibbert and Jeff Green - a classmate who did opt for the NBA - led the team to last season's Final Four before losing to Ohio State. "It's been a long time since we won the tournament," Hibbert said, sitting not far from a case protecting the 1984 trophy at McDonough Arena. "It would mean a lot."
. . . .

"I'm having so much fun my senior year. The atmosphere around campus - I'll miss that," Hibbert said. "When you get to the NBA, it's a lot of business, contracts, negotiating, and everything like that. I'm just living out my adolescent years, my last few years of freedom, before I've got to go into the business side of basketball."

. . . .

"He comes in as an unsure-of-himself kid, and now he's grown up," Thompson said. "He's gone through the natural maturation process that most college kids go through - get here a little uneasy, not sure about things, not the most confident in the world. Now he's grown into a sense of who he is." That's evident in the way Hibbert carries himself these days, teammates say. "I've never heard Roy talk so much since I got here. But he's vocal, telling everybody what to do and where to be," junior guard Jesse Sapp said. "We need the Big Fella. There's not too many Big Fellas in the country who are going to be able to stop him."

A government major, Hibbert looks forward to tossing his mortarboard in the air at graduation next spring, not the type of sentiment one hears every day from a big-time college athlete. Particularly in basketball, where top players often leave after a year or two. Hibbert, though, thinks he could put his degree to good use down the road. He's been keeping tabs on the 2008 presidential campaign and went to hear candidate Barack Obama speak twice. "After basketball, maybe you might see me running for governor or mayor, something like that," Hibbert said, eyes and smile as wide as can be. "I won't go so far as to say 'president,' because that's kind of cliche. But you never know what will happen."

His time at Georgetown also has afforded him the chance to earn a B.A. in basketball from such luminaries as Mutombo, Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning. The trio of past Hoyas centers stops by the ol' stomping grounds from time to time; Ewing's son, Patrick Jr., is Hibbert's teammate. "Dikembe would say, 'Be long. Clog up the lane. Block shots. Get rebounds. Be a defensive threat.' Big Pat would show me some moves. Alonzo would tell me, 'Shoot 300 hooks a day,"' Hibbert said. "They each told me what they're good at. So I try to be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as I can." Something others notice. "That guy's really something," said Villanova's Jay Wright, who has to deal with Hibbert in Big East competition and coached him this summer on the U.S. team at the Pan Am Games. "Besides the obvious talent, he's really smart. ... A lot of times, you see big guys who play the game because they're big. He plays the game because he loves the game." Yet another explanation for why Hibbert is a senior rather than a rookie right now. And although he is well aware of the risks associated with staying in school, Hibbert is not daunted by them. "I could have the worst season of my life or Georgetown may not do well this year. I could go not where I thought I'd go in the draft. I could get hurt," he said, rapping his sizable hand on a nearby wood table. "I'll take the responsibility for what my decision was after the season's done. And if I don't get drafted - if I get hurt or whatever - I'm going to keep working. Because that's what I do."