Georgetown basketball is slogging through what could be its worst season in more than 40 years, continuing a terrible two-year run for coach John Thompson III. The lowest point of the season may have come Saturday in an 81-55 loss to defending national champion Villanova.
The Hoyas were down by 10 at halftime, an arguably competitive margin. But the Wildcats blew Georgetown out of its home gym in the second half, outscoring the Hoyas 43-27. Saturday’s result made it painfully clear that Georgetown is seriously overmatched in the Big East, an overhauled conference in which it was expected to be a perennial contender.
Thompson’s job status currently looks rather tenuous. The Hoyas have lost five games in a row, resulting in a 5-13 record in the Big East and an overall mark of 14-17. Calls for Thompson to be fired are getting louder by the day (including from the home crowd at Verizon Center), so it was natural to ask about the program’s future after Saturday’s loss. That’s when a team spokesman stepped in.
I asked JT3 if outside talk regarding program's future was a distraction this week. School official: "Leave it to game-related questions."
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) March 4, 2017
“How awkward is it? When Thompson was asked a standard question about the future of the program and the potential for distractions after Saturday’s game, a team spokesman declared before the coach could answer: ‘Leave it to game-related questions.’ And that was the end of a postgame media session that lasted about four minutes.”
Georgetown's press conference lasts under 4 minutes.
— The Hoya Sports (@thehoyasports) March 4, 2017
Though the past four seasons (which include one NCAA Tournament bid) have been a disappointment for the Hoyas, Georgetown probably won’t fire Thompson. He still has an overall record of 278-150, three Big East titles, and eight NCAA Tournament bids — and a Final Four — on his résumé.
Many people will surely speculate that Thompson keeps his job because of his father’s legendary status and tenure (which also has former players hesitant to speak out) as Georgetown coach, but his record is arguably strong enough to justify weathering through a tough stretch. However, the Hoyas’ recent struggles and no indication that recruiting will turn the program around have to be a significant concern.
Asking if the program’s future has become a distraction for the current team and the program overall is fair game. Reporters covering the team wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t ask those questions. For Georgetown to shut those questions down and act like there’s nothing to discuss is covering their eyes, ears and mouth to the issues that fans, alumni and media are talking about.