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Should Georgetown Make a Coaching Change? The Case Against John Thompson III

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

With Georgetown's season officially over, we're taking a look at what changes might need to be made in order to restore the program to national prominence. Today, we take a look at John Thompson III, and make the case why Georgetown needs to make a change.  Tomorrow, we'll bring you the other side of the coin.


Current Situation:
2 NCAA Tournament wins in 8 seasons. Missed NCAA Tournaments over the last 8 seasons? 3. I don't care who your father is, that gets you fired when you make the annual salary that JTIII reportedly does. Perhaps it's not fair to cut his resume off in 2008 - and if his first six seasons and last six seasons were swapped - it'd make things look a whole lot better. But it doesn't work like that. Momentum and the current situation is what matters. It matters to recruiting, a shrinking national profile and a stale program. As it stands a 15-18 record in 2016 is the worst winning percantage in a season since the Thompson Era of Georgetown basketball began in 1972. Yes, even Esherick's 2004 campaign tops this (.464 to .455)

This program still runs the Princeton offense. Is it Pete Carril upsetting UCLA with back cuts and clock draining? No. But we still run it and III has rightfully tried to say 'no, no,'s not' for perception as it is a killer on the recruiting trail. You know how to actually fix that problem and perception? Stop running the offense. He has altered it and you get *some* creativity in splashes but the base offense is Princeton. Point screen away, reject point screen away, point over the top, reject point over the top point down the middle, drift...all that Princeton O jargon is what this team runs out of its base sets. Why would a point guard want to come here when the ball is not going to be in their hands for the majority of time versus programs that rely on ball screens? Especially kids trying to play in the NBA. It's just not a smart decision to play basketball in this system. Also, it's one thing to do it your way and do it well. Tell people to kiss your ass - except it's not working. You can't be different and bad. This program has not posted a Top 30 offense since 2010 via KenPom. It's both slow and given the turnover numbers and having a 7 footer 20 feet from the hoop - not exactly risk averse. You can't be slow and turn the ball over. Basketball is about possessions and we lose that battle constantly. Lastly, there used to be a time where our offense was feared and teams had to resort in playing us in zone. We never see that anymore and when we do (Syracuse) it is an absolute gift. I don't think there is a bigger indictment on the current offense than that. Opposing coaches want to see our base offense.

Much how you can't be slow and still lend yourself to risk in your offense - you can't fail to take risks and still foul a crap-load on defense. It is absurd to be 286th nationally in forcing turnovers and 345th in foul rate. It makes it impossible to - again - win any turnover battle. At this point it's clear JTIII has not been able to adjust to the rule changes and emphasis on the perimeter. What is being taught clearly is not going through to the kids that have been in the program the last three seasons. 331st, 305th and 345th are rankings of foul rate in those years since the emphasis on freedom of movement. Unless you combat this by readily acknowledging that you will foul and try to increase pressure and force turnovers, you're dead. You'll find a couple good or even really good teams (Wichita, WVU) who foul a ton but it's done almost intentionally - - they know the turnovers will come with it. JTIII has also failed at coaching any semblance of a zone defense since 2013 to help with issues of his man-to-man. The team also deploys a rather stale ball screen defense and a failure to correctly teach it to their big men this season.

No, Georgetown wouldn't pay the next guy 2.8 million a year. Guess what? You don't have to. That is a large amount of money - and not a figure that coaches like King Rice, Danny Hurley or Kevin Keatts would ask for. Just using those names as examples - Keatts has a base salary of 300K. Hurley has a deal of 400K annually. The chance to coach in the Big East and have the DMV as your recruiting ground? They jump at the job for nearly half of what III pulls in. Arizona State pulled away one of the hotter candidates last spring in Bobby Hurley for a starting figure of 1.2 million. Yes, there likely is a sizable buyout for III and perhaps whoever you go after (Rice just earned an extension. Keatts buyout is only 200K). But there are far better ways to get a return on those millions than the product we are currently receiving. Perhaps part of the problem is the allocation - 2.8 to the head man but if you go cheap in other areas (assistants - and other staff...strength and conditioning) what's the point? Right now, the program is Peter and III is Paul.

Recruiting and Player Development:
I like the last two classes and I'm sure most do as well. This isn't one of III's bigger issues in my opinion...but having a year under .500 and missing 2 out of 3 tournaments can turn it into one in a hurry. The 2017 class is pivotal and Georgetown is entering it with zero momentum on the floor. The IAC is helpful but the promoting of it as a 'game changer' by the current AD on twitter was embarrassing. It's not a game changer. It takes your from being woefully behind to behind. It looks good in comparison to what Seton Hall or St. John's might have to offer but against the ACC, SEC, B10 and others? It's just another building to kids. Development is more concerning - this program is not landing top level kids like Austin, Chris and DaJuan - who even if they don't max out their ability - 80% of what they have is an All-Conference performer. You now have to take kids who could be good or really good and make sure they get there. This is with their bodies (Govan, Derrickson) and with their skill (Copeland). There is reason to be at least a bit worried that this staff may come up short in that department.

Fading Support:

Georgetown basketball is unique. And part of that is it requires support from the non-die hards and even non-alumni. The numbers say that is happening less and less.

Limited Access and Accountability:
You know what would be nice? Any feeling of inclusiveness among fans. Georgetown keeps everything it can in the dark. 'Hoya Paranoia' is fun when you're winning and you can be the big, bad secret ops program. When you suck? It sucks. It comes off as cowardly as well. III is never pressed for questions and answers in press settings - because those reporters almost surely know there's a price to pay given how things operate. Just once in 12 years it'd be nice to hear a 'This one is on me'. Other high major coaches have obligations that III never faces - radio spots, a weekly TV show - III has a 5 minute meet and greet before games which may or may not appear on Youtube afterwards.

Someone Might WANT the Job:
Do not sell this place short. The coaches you would be targeting - Late 30's to Late 40's - grew up in the absolute heyday of Georgetown basketball. That resonates. The job is in DC - a wonderful city to live in and an even better one to set up shop with recruiting. The New Big East may not be as appealing as the Power 5 - but it's not that far off. The program has history. A new facility and an NBA arena to play in. There also is money and hopefully a willingness to spend. We can not allow ourselves to be beaten down into thinking this is a mid-major job. It is not.

I've long supported III. For a few years (as someone who did not attend Georgetown), I wondered if I would even find myself that eager to support a Georgetown program not led by a Thompson. It's such a unique place and a program that the thought feels odd. Even in January my stance was that he should at least finish out things with this sophomore class before it's time to move on. But as the calendar has turned to March and we're again on the outside looking in - I've had enough. It's Year 12 and he's giving me little reason to believe that he can recapture the mojo he once had in 2005-2008. College basketball doesn't work like that - you're either a blue blood who stays on top or a good program who sees the ebb and flow with a coaching change needed once in a while. I care about the program and want to see it be a sustainable one for the next 20 years. This could be back fire and I'm okay with taking that leap. I would rather this program die a courageous death than a slow one.