Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hoyas coach has memory tested

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Georgetown coach John Thompson III was patiently taking questions Saturday about his third-seeded Hoyas team that meets 11th seed North Carolina State in a Midwest Region game today.

An enterprising writer from Carolina had a question about a lingering grudge from when the teams met in the NCAA Tournament's East Region semifinals.

"I'm not sure what your memories are of the 1989 game between Georgetown and N.C. State," the reporter began, "but there's a significant portion of the people in Raleigh who think Alonzo Mourning fouled Chris Corchiani at the end of that game instead of the travel that was called. Do you remember any of that?"

Thompson laughed.

His father, John Thompson Jr., was the coach of the Hoyas when they beat the Wolfpack 69-61 before falling to Duke 85-77 two days later in the round of eight. The younger Thompson was a year out of Princeton at the time.

Two games before, the Hoyas almost became the first and only No. 1 seed to lose to a 16th seed when they held off Princeton 50-49. In that game, the Tigers had two chances to win in the final seconds, but Mourning blocked two shots. Many thought then — and some still do — that the Hoyas center had fouled the shooter.

"I do not remember that game specifically," Thompson said of the N.C. State-Georgetown game. "When you were asking that question, the first thing that went through my head was that there are a lot of people in Princeton, N.J., that think Alonzo Mourning fouled Bobby Scrabis on the last shot of that game. So that must have been the theme that year."

From the other side of a nearby curtain came a booming voice: "Both of them were wrong!"

It was John Thompson Jr.

HENSON UPDATE: North Carolina coach Roy Williams said forward John Henson and his injured wrist were about 50-50 for today against Creighton. And he was wishing people would stop asking about it.

"I'm tired of answering the daggum thing," Williams said. "I really don't have any other information at all to add to what I said" Friday.

Henson, a former Sickles High standout, said his left wrist felt better, and he even showcased some simple movements to reporters in the locker room.

But the wrist had felt good Friday, too, until he started catching basketballs and going through the motions.

"Coach always says you've got to be comfortable," Henson said. "You've got to look confident. I need to show him I'm a little more comfortable than I was" Friday.

Henson said he has been going through a battery of tests to get his wrist in playing shape.

PHILLY HOSPITALITY: Philadelphia 76ers fans made certain Heat forward Shane Battier knew that his beloved Duke Blue Devils became the second No. 15 seed to fall to a No. 2 Friday night.

While the 76ers battled Battier's Heat down the stretch in Philadelphia, fans kept him abreast of the goings-on in the Duke-Lehigh game some 450 miles to the south. Knowing their long memories and reputation for brutality, Battier was reluctant afterward to repeat any of the blow-by-blow descriptions.

"The Philly faithful were very kind to give me updates the whole time," he said finally, "in the way only Philly fans can."

COACHING MILESTONE: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose 889 wins rank third on the Division I list behind Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight, earned his 47th NCAA Tournament victory, tied with John Wooden for fifth place.

RATINGS: The first two full days of the tournament Thursday and Friday averaged a 5.3 rating across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. CBS and Turner Sports said Saturday that was up 6 percent from last year.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I can beat Rick. I can get him up and down the court for sure." — Tom Izzo, Michigan State coach, when asked about today's matchup with portly Rick Majerus' Saint Louis squad

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