NCAA

JT3: Nobody wants NCAA Tourney success more than me

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JT3: Nobody wants NCAA Tourney success more than me

The Georgetown men's college basketball season opens this Saturday, Nov. 14 against Radford. The first regular season game against Maryland since 1993 soon follows along with meetings against Wisconsin and Duke or VCU. December brings "Squeeze the Orange" banners at Verizon Center when the Hoyas reunite with longtime rival Syracuse. The bulk of the matchups with current Big East foes including Villanova take place over January and February. 

Based on those opponents, factoring in a deep roster with interchangeable athletes galore plus impressive conference and national projections, the Hoyas are in line for a winning and exciting season.

Whether the fans can truly enjoy is another matter. Lurking around the corner of every regular season victory or buzzer-beater finish, wafting in the air over every "is this our year" discussion on the Hilltop lies the Ides of March Madness.

Since reaching the 2007 Final Four, the Hoyas haven't advanced past the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Fair or not, the talk is reality. Announcers will mention in most broadcasts. Opposing fans on the road will remind with glee, not that the Blue and Gray faithful need those upsetting memories jogged.

Neither does the main man on the Georgetown bench. The one who followed his father as a Final Four coach. The one who keeps churning out 20-win regular seasons. The one who led his team to the NCAA's in six of the past eight seasons. The one who directed his higher seeded squad into tournament games as heavy favorites against Davidson, Ohio, VCU and Florida Gulf Coast -- and lost.

"History is history and we're going to do what we can as it relates to our season," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said during a recent interview with CSNmidatlantic.com. "[Have] similar results, but in many ways, different results."

Similar means another season with at least 21 wins, which the Hoyas have achieved in eight of the last 10 years under Thompson. Different, well, that doesn't need explaining.

Last season's tournament loss to fourth-seeded Utah in the round of 32 wasn't one of those OMG upset scenarios. Lumped together with other first weekend exits, it's still enough to drive some diehards to madness or at least fear what the next March might bring from November to February.

Thompson's status as Georgetown's head coach is among the most stable in college basketball. The program wins games while avoiding NCAA scandal. There is a new, 144,000 square foot athletics center under construction next to venerable McDonough Arena, the program's longtime practice facility. The new building will be named for the father, John R. Thompson Jr.

That doesn't mean the man most on the outside refer to as JT3 doesn't feel pressure. It's just not coming from the outside, from reporters, fans or hecklers.

"There is tremendous pressure that always comes with the job," Thompson said. "There is no one on this earth that wants us to succeed more than me. That pressure comes from within."

The interview takes place in his office above the McDonough court where hanging banners and various NBA uniforms highlight the program's success and player achievement. The coach sits in front of a picture of former Georgetown great Patrick Ewing, the centerpiece of his father's 1984 national championship team. Reminders of Georgetown's past glory and potential are everywhere.

As for the constant discussion about NCAA Tournament woes, Thompson said, "I would not say there is extra [pressure], but there are always huge expectations that come along with sitting in this chair. That has always been the case."

For this specific marching in March topic, the case will remain open until the Hoyas close it shut with a trip to the round of 16 and ideally a bit more. That may be the best reason why fans should put on blinders and live in the moment. Enjoy the final season with senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and the first with three promising freshmen. Embrace the games with the Maryland's and Wisconsin's, the Syracuse's and Villanova's, and, sure, the Radford's for what they are without big picture focus. Talk of previous NCAA Tournament bummers will be there come March regardless. Until then, enjoy the ride.

That's just a thought. No pressure. 

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

After testing the NBA Draft waters, Georgetown center Jessie Govan decided to return to the Hoyas for his senior season.

Govan announced his intention to return on Instagram a week before the final commitment deadline.

Returning to the Hoyas is definitely a boost to the program that will be in their second year under head coach Patrick Ewing.  At 6-10, Govan was the team’s leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and rebounder (10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double last season.

Paired alongside power forward Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas were nearly unstoppable in the paint. Derrickson though decided to forgo his senior year and signed with an agent after the season.

Had Govan decided to leave that would have meant over 56 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding would have departed (to graduation or professional pursuits) in a handful of months. Not the best outlook for a 15-win team that went 5-13 in the Big East.

Instead Ewing gets back his leading scorer that many believe he can mold as a young protégée. While in the draft process without an agent Govan had workouts with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Both are valuable experiences that he will bring to a relatively young Georgetown squad.

Having Govan for one more year will bridge Ewing’s second season to transfer big-man, Omer Yurtseven to his first year of eligibility in 2019. They were set up to having a walk-on and two sophomores being the only returning Hoyas over 6-6 for the upcoming season.

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.