Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 2:31 pm

Big East leadership questioned by coaches

By Jeff Goodman

Some guys just aren't cut out to be head coaches. They make better assistants.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto may be one of those guys.

"I firmly believe we would manage this a lot better with a different leader," said one Big East head coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's a good man, a good right-hand man. But I think he's in over his head."

To be fair, Marinatto was thrust into an unenviable situation, following the late Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese as the leaders of the Big East.

Marinatto's resume reads as follows: A Providence kid who graduated from Providence College in 1979, then later went onto become the athletic director at the school for 14 years. He was the associate commissioner of the Big East from 2002-2009, when he took over for Tranghese.

"There's just no way it would have gotten to this point if Dave or Mike were still in charge," another Big East head man said.

One thing is for certain: Gavitt and/or Tranghese wouldn't have had the news of Syracuse and Pittsburgh's departure delivered to him in a football press box on Saturday - as has been reported to be the case with Marinatto.

"I'm not sure how it would have worked out, but it would have," a coach in the league said about the overall situation the league now finds itself.

``I doubt it," answered yet another when posed the question whether this would have occurred under previous leadership.

However, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh departing for the ACC at some point (likely prior to 2014) and UConn begging and pleading to join the exodus, Marinatto has come under fire.

While there are certainly those who are skeptical, Marinatto does still have his share of support.

"I think eventually this would have happened anyway," one coach said. "Everyone wants to put it on Marinatto, but this is a league that's been built on instability."

Now the future of the Big East - and the way it'll be comprised - is in jeopardy. Will it add a couple members to replace what is has lost - and may lose - and move forward? Or will it re-shape itself for improved long-term stability and go the route of the "basketball-only" schools, thus going hard after Xavier and Butler?

We'll see what Marinatto does - and whether his fate mirrors that of outgoing Big 12 commish Dan Beebe, who's at left of Marinatto in the photo above.

Photo: AP
Posted on: September 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:15 pm

Trippin': Fight might've been good for Hoyas

By Gary Parrish

John Thompson III would've rather the fight in China been avoided. That's obvious, right? But the fight did happen -- you've read about it and seen it many times already, I'm sure -- and there's nothing anybody can do about it now. So Thompson has decided to use the incident as a positive, and he really thinks it might be exactly that.

"In a roundabout and undesired kind of way, the whole incident, the fight, really brought this group closer together quickly," Thompson said. "So big picture, it's not a bad thing at all."

Georgetown returned home from China last month.

Thompson reflected on the trip with CBSSports.com on Wednesday.

What Thompson learned: "This group has a willingness to compete and a willingness to win. And it's a versatile team -- much more versatile than we've been the past couple of years."

Who or what impressed Thompson: "I think the key part of the trip was just the introduction and acclimation and initiation of our freshmen. We have five freshman and we're going to need significant contributions from all of them, to tell you the truth. I was very pleased with how they competed, how they responded and how they learned. They all played really well. Collectively, their basketball IQ and competitive spirt is high."

What concerned Thompson: "Our inexperience. As much as I like this group, we're still an inexperienced team."

----- NOTES -----
  • Like most coaches, Thompson is mostly spending this "contact" period on the road watching and meeting with prospects. But when I caught him on the phone Wednesday, he was actually walking into his office ... for a moment. "I'm going to be in here two hours," Thompson said. "Then it's back on the road."
  • Georgetown, as Thompson pointed out, will rely heavily on a freshman class of Otto Porter, Greg Whittington, Tyler Adams, Mikael Hopkins and Jabril Trawick. Thompson said all of them -- except Adams, who was injured at the time but is now fine -- showed encouraging signs in China, and he didn't single anybody out. But when I asked about Porter specifically, here's what Thompson said: "Otto is outstanding. He's just a basketball player. He does everything on the court. He can score. He defends. He rebounds. He works hard."
  • The country got to hear John Thompson Jr. -- Thompson III's legendary father -- tell his 9/11 story earlier this week, and most of us were blown away by it, by how close the former Georgetown coach came to dying in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Among those not blown away was Thompson III. He heard that story 10 years ago. "I remember him trying to decide whether to travel that day," said Thompson III. "I'm just glad he wasn't stubborn about getting on that plane."
Photo: Reuters
Posted on: September 12, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:39 pm

How John Thompson dodged riding doomed 9/11 plane

By Matt Norlander

Legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson would be dead right now if it weren't for the unwitting perseverance of one man.

In what was an absolutely chilling interview during Jim Rome's Monday afternoon radio show, Thompson detailed how he was supposed to be on American Airlines Flight 77 -- the one that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.

The story goes like this. In 2001, Rome had a television show on Fox Sports Net titled, "The Last Word." Rome's producer, Danny Swartz, had been trying to corral Thompson onto the program for well over a year. Finally, he connected with the coach and they began negotiating a date for an in-studio interview. Though he had been out of coaching for two years, Thompson was still a busy man back then, and he was supposed to be in Vegas on Sept. 13 for a friend's birthday party. So he wanted to give himself time between engagements and fly in on Sept. 11.

The schedules didn't align, and Swartz politely persisted that Thompson, who had already been booked for Flight 77 Tuesday morning, move his departure back to the following Wednesday.

“I said, 'I will only go if I can go on the 11th because I want to be in Vegas on the 12th,'" Thompson said on Rome's show. "In the meantime, the young man (Swartz) called back to the office a few days before all of this happened (9/11) ... and wanted to know whether I would come on the 12th. Back in those days, I didn’t compromise hardly anything."

Thompson, admittedly, was ornery and tough to deal with almost all of the time. Swartz didn't back down, though, and promised Thompson he'd arrange everything so the coach would be able to comfortable get to Vegas soon after appearing on Rome's show. Thompson subsided and agreed to switch his flights. Come the morning of 9/11, Thompson said he could feel the vibration of the plane's collision with the Pentagon due to the proximity of his house to the crash site.

That's an eerie circumstance to realize, considering when Thompson felt the earth move, at that moment, he had no idea that he would have been on that plane if he didn't act so out of the ordinary and relent to Swartz's insistence on flying on Sept. 12. Soon thereafter, it was brought to Thompson's attention by his assistant just how serendipitous he was.

“(She said), 'You were supposed to be on that plane. If that kid hadn’t have talked you out of it, you would’ve been on that plane,'" Thompson said. "The strangest thing about it was, it’s hard to be elated about all of it because of what happened. I’m appreciative. I went out on my porch, smoked a cigar, said my prayers … but at the same time, you can’t be too jubilant about it. But had it not been for that set of circumstances, I would have been on that plane on the 11th.”

Rome arranged to have Thompson and Swartz on the phone together Monday -- the first time the two had spoken since before the attacks on 9/11.

“Let me tell you something, if you’re ever in DC, you look me up,” Thompson said to Swartz. “I was antagonistic in those days, and how you handle it saved my life. And I appreciate that.”

Photo: AP
Posted on: August 19, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 2:33 pm

We've got the G'town-China fight animation video!

By Matt Norlander

What's better than the genuine article? An animation video recreating the incident with egregious embellishment. This is infinitely more watchable, believe it or not.

We've hit some sort of nexus with this video-recreation-of-a-video-that-ex
ists, but I'm not complaining. The essential, dramatic recreation of Thursday's events are born out of a party in a Georgetown frat house, apparently, and then get down to business: retelling the melee as it happened ... on a green basketball court. And includes a bear-sized Panda walloping what I can only safely assume is Jason Clark.

A compatriot of the panda can then be seen hurling condiments from the stands. There's an intense, flamboyant referee, as well as an all-too-accurate computer recreation of John Thompson, III. At one point, a Bayi player starts spitting hot fire -- literally. Dylon is not featured, however. Soon enough, this essential feature moves on to players fighting in the outdoors amongst political figures. There's a deft underlying message being sent here.

NMA World Edition outdoes itself again. And if you'd like, the Miami-scandal report is also a go.

Share this with everyone you've ever known. Do it now.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 18, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 4:58 pm

Hoyas spokesman talks about fight in Beijing

By Jeff Goodman

I just got off the phone with Georgetown spokesman Mex Carey - who was still awake at 4 a.m. local time. 

By now, you have, in all likelihood, heard about the Hoyas bench-clearing brawl in Beijing, China, on Thursday. You may have even seen the video of the fracas with the Bayi Rockets, a Chinese professional team. 

"It was a physical game," Carey said. "There's no question about it." 

And apparently, the Hoyas weren't getting a kind whistle as the Bayi Rockets went to the charity stripe 57 times to Georgetown's 15 free throws. The game was tied at 64 when the game was halted midway through the fourth quarter following the incidents.

"It wasn't that JT III (John Thompson III) pulled them off the floor," Carey said. "At that point, the game was done." 

Carey said that the players on both sides weren't injured following the altercation, but one Georgetown fan and alum was knocked unconscious after being hit with a water bottle in the throat area. 

Georgetown is slated to leave in the morning for Shanghai. The Hoyas have two more games left on their current trip - the next one on Monday - before they will head back home on Wednesday. 

The sad part, Carey said, is that this incident will certainly mar what had been a terrific trip for the Hoyas. 

"It's been a great experience," Carey said. ``It's a beautiful city."

Carey said the scariest part was actually when the players were separated and the fans in the arena were throwing objects at the team when they were walking off the court. 
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 18, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 2:09 pm

Video of the Georgetown-Bayi brawl

By Matt Norlander

And this is most definitely a brawl. It escalates quickly and immediately. Not sure what the worst part is: the boiled-over donnybrook, or the fans who, well after tempers settle, pelt and shower the Georgetown players and staff with water bottles.

Truly stunning video, and it comes by way of the irreplaceable Timothy Burke.

And I have to include this photo, which is so troubling and iconic to the incident. It comes from Reuters, via DC Sports Bog.

That guy at the heart of the fight isn't wearing a uniform.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 10:42 am

Georgetown now fighting teams in China

By Matt Norlander

We can now presume when the Hoyas met with Joe Biden in Beijing yesterday, they didn't talk about peace and diplomacy.

And I'm guessing, unlike the Biden photo-op, we won't be receiving a press release about this dust-up.

UPDATE: Statement from Georgetown is as follows, "Tonight, two great teams played a very competitive game that unfortunately ended after heated exchanges with both teams. We sincerely regret that this situation occurred."

Georgetown's team got pulled off the court in the fourth quarter of a game Friday (it's Friday over there) against Baiyi, when the score was 64-64, after players began fighting and "chairs were being thrown. Players and coaches had to dodge water bottles hurled from stands."

I can't quite make out the photo to the right, but it could very well be Hollis Thompson swinging limbs with a Baiyi player.

It never even gets this bad against Syracuse. Did someone say "your Mom's a Hoya!" in Mandarin? Is that what led to what looks like complete chaos in an overseas exhibition?

Well, via Ballin' is a Habit, this messageboard claims to have the rundown on what happened, as the poster was in attendance at the game. It is a messageboard, so we always tread carefully, but here's a lengthy, supposedly informed excerpt:

The whole thing came undone in the third. About two minutes in, the ridiculously lopsided foul calls continued and the first real shoving match kicked off over a loose ball. The players on the court separated each other pretty quickly, but then the craziest thing I've ever seen happened- one of the Bayi big men got in JT3's face and almost took a swing. He was so shocked he didn't know what to do. So that upped the ante a bit.

Then the foul calls truly took on a comical dimension. ... There were four or five intentional fouls called, giving them four shots each time down the court. JT3 was called for a technical for stepping over the line onto the court. ... A few exchanges got testy and at one point players had to restrain themselves again.

Two minutes into the fourth, they were pressing full court, trapped one of our guards (I forget who it was), and then must have pushed or punched him on the ground after he made the outlet pass, because then there was a shoving match and then a bit of a fight, and then the whole thing set off. He tried to get away as quickly as possible as the Chinese players sort of converged on him, and then benches cleared, and then people on the Chinese bench started picking up chairs. Everyone on the other side of the court started fighting as well. Brawl spread all over the court, and then off the court. After it kicked off it immediately became possible for the crowd to get involved, and then they did. As we tried to get the team off the court, bottles (plastic ones, thankfully) came out of the crowd at the team and everyone left. Security was there (sort of), but it was more equivalent to mall cop-quality security rather than actual security. The Georgetown staff wanted the security to get on the floor, but honestly these guys didn't have a clue what to do. They escorted the whole alumni contingent out fairly quickly after that.
To me, just looks like another example of some real team bonding on an overseas trip. Mission accomplished, really.

Photos via here
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 17, 2011 1:20 pm

Georgetown meets Biden in Beijing

By Matt Norlander

"And that's when I told Barack, 'Mr. President, with all due respect, I really think we should go through with this and try to take bin Laden down on May 1.' It was all me, boys."

The Georgetown men's hoops team is in the midst of an 11-day tour of China. Coincidentally, vice president Joe Biden is also in the Far East. The Hoyas and their fellow D.C.-dwelling superior were both in Beijing Wednesday.

Georgetown defeated the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association 98-81 in front of Biden and some of his constituents. It was the team's first game in their overseas trip. Biden met the young Hoyas in the locker room before the game started, per Georgetown spokesman Mex Cary.

“I’m glad some of those things happened (the VP attending) because life in the Big East is one big distraction," John Thompson III said. "Being fortunate enough to play at Georgetown, we have many events like this. We were excited and honored to have the vice president, as he said, travel 24 hours to see us play, along with the many, countless Chinese politicians and delegates that came to watch their team play, as well as ours.”

As far as the game, Hoyas fans, know that freshman forward Otto Porter led the team with 16 point. The team shot 47 percent from the field.

“This group has to manage itself, and so whether we win big or lose big while we’re over here, the purpose of this trip is to establish habits and how we need to do things,” Thompson said. “We have a long ways to go.

The Hoyas play again in Beijing Thursday, against the Bayi Rockets. They'll be playing in the Olympic Sports Center. Good to see that building still getting some use three years after the end of the XXIX Olympiad.

Photo via Georgetown athletics
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com