March 15, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Georgetown student athletes Jason Clark and Henry Sims. Questions for the student athletes.
Q. How well are you aware of Belmont and their tradition of near misses, and how dangerous a team do you think they can be?
Henry Sims: We're well aware. We've been going over Belmont stuff for the last two or three days. We know they're a team that likes to put a lot of points on the board. They like to shoot a lot of 3s and they get after it defensively.
Jason Clark: Same thing. We know that we have to we know it's going to be a game where you play defense all 40 minutes of the game. They run their stuff. Like Henry said, they like to put points on the board. So we have to do a good job defensively.
Q. Obviously they've had great success shooting the 3 pointer, and that's always been that's been a strength of yours defending that. Could you just talk about that matchup and how important you think that is to the eventual outcome of the game?
Jason Clark: It's going to be very important. We do a good job of defending 3 point line. That's one thing Coach has been stressing all this week at practice is defending the 3 point line, not letting them get 3 point shots. So we have been doing a lot of closeout drills and defensive drills, so guarding the 3 point line is going to be important to winning this game.
Q. The preseason expectations for this year's Georgetown team weren't very high. You guys weren't picked to finish very high in the Big East. What's allowed you guys to kind of overcome those expectations and be successful this year?
Henry Sims: I think we just as a team we didn't pay much attention to that all. We started with early in the summer we knew we had the pieces we had and we all came to work hard every day. And we knew that wasn't our fate. We knew we could do a lot better than people were saying.
Q. Henry, can you just talk about, you've had two really good games coming in here, can you talk about the urgency you feel as a senior to finish strong, here you are in your last tournament, and kind of what the career is like all of a sudden you're down to the last few weeks here?
Henry Sims: It's quite a feeling. This is the last go around. I'll never get college basketball back. So every game you want to go out and just play as hard as you can, leave it all on the floor, because it's live or die now.
Q. If both of you, I guess, could take a crack at this. Jason, you both have been part of a lot of success in your four years I know at Georgetown yet haven't had a chance to go beyond the first round of the tournament. Looking back on those last two first round losses, in your mind what was kind of the downfall or what was the issue? And then what is it about this year's squad that makes you feel I'm sure you feel it's not going to happen that way this time.
Jason Clark: I think the downfall in those past two years is we didn't guard the ball well. We didn't defend the other team well. They got open shots. Both teams were very good teams. Both teams shot the ball very well in both of those games. So I think what's different about this team is we're a better defensive team than we have been in the past. We played more urgency on the defensive end, and I think that's going to be the difference this year.
Q. What makes you feel that this year's bunch, you and your teammates, are going to get past this first round?
Henry Sims: A lot of the things that Jason just said. This team brings a lot more energy to the court. Especially defensively. This team is a very good defensive group with our length and speed. We can guard a lot of people different ways on the defensive end of the floor, and I think that will help us advance in this tournament.
Q. Jason, can you talk about what you've seen from maybe from the freshmen specifically in the last few days that shows you that those guys understand what your message is, what you guys have been through and sort of the failures to get out of the first round?
Jason Clark: I think they're understanding that at this point in the year you have to pay attention to everything. You can't lose focus on anything. This is the time of the year where it's going to be a lot of distractions in this tournament because this is a very big tournament. It's supposed to be fun, but at the same point in time you have to focus on your task at hand. So I think they're doing a good job of focusing on the team that we have to play tomorrow.
Q. Henry, follow up about yourself. Can you talk a little bit about the improvement you've made this year individually and the work you did last summer, and kind of what has led to the fact that you've had such a good year and is it just kind of a matter of a light going off or is there something else to it?
Henry Sims: This summer was a big summer for me, a lot of things at home this summer, and I guess you could say I rededicated myself to the gym. I put in a lot of hard work. I worked harder than I've ever worked this summer, and it's starting to pay off.
Q. For both players, just the subject of the first round exits came up. I'm wondering how much of a motivator that's been for you guys and even something talked about throughout the year or just come up recently or you guys not talk about it at all?
Jason Clark: I mean, we don't really talk about it. We all know what happened the last two, two rounds. It's definitely a motivator. Everybody has it in the back of their mind. We try not to focus on it. We know we didn't do it in those games. So we want to learn from our mistakes, and that's what we've been working all year for.
Henry Sims: Yeah, we tried not to like Jason said, try not to focus on it. It's in the past. This is a new group of kids, new team, and we're determined just to not let that happen again.
Q. Jason, can you just talk about your confidence level knowing that this is the team that relies on the 3 ball and that's something that you all are good at defending?
Jason Clark: I think that this team is a very confident team defensively and offensively. We have been defending the 3 very well. And that's something that Coach stresses a lot because three points is more than two. So we focus on that a lot. And I think this team has gotten to a point where we understand that we can defend the 3 point line. We can defend players getting to the basket. So that's something that we keep focusing on that, we keep getting better at.
Q. When you look at this team on film, is it as simple as you guys stop them at the 3 point line and you get this victory, or is there more to this team than that?
Jason Clark: There's definitely more to the team than that. But the biggest thing is stopping their 3 point shooting. They have players that can get to the basket. They have players that can shoot the ball. So we're focused on both, but 3 point shooting has been a pretty much of a main focus for us.
Q. Jason, looking back on your time at Georgetown, has it gone quickly? And in what ways are you a different player today than when you showed up as a freshman?
Jason Clark: It's gone very quickly. I still remember the first day I stepped on campus, but I think I'm a completely different player. I think I came in not knowing what to expect, just wanting to come here, do everything I could for my team. And I'm still that same person. I still want to do everything for my team. So over the years I just worked on every aspect of my game to get better. So I think I'm a different player, but I'm the same player.
Q. Skill wise, leadership wise?
Jason Clark: Leadership wise it's been the biggest step I've taken. I wasn't the leader because mainly the seniors on the team are mainly the leaders. So this year I think me and Henry both have stepped up to be leaders on this team. We both know skill wise we've been in the gym together, working on everything we needed to work on. So I think I would say leadership is the biggest thing that I've been working on.
Q. Henry, is it frustrating to hear people talk about judging you guys by what's happened in the past with those early exits? Do you feel people are unfairly critiquing the team based on what's happened in the past?
Henry Sims: I guess you could say yes. It's expected because it happened. It's hard for people to forget what happened until you make something different happen. So it gets kind of repetitive when people talk about it, but the best way for us to fix that is to win this first game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're joined by head coach John Thompson, III. Questions for Coach Thompson.
Q. Writing a little bit about Henry Sims, could you talk about his development in four years, and particularly what led to the big leap in his production his senior year?
COACH THOMPSON III: I think he just had what in many ways was just a normal progression. He's gotten better every year. This year we've needed him to do more. This year, as what happens with a lot of seniors in college on many different levels, I think he realized that the end was near in terms of his days at Georgetown. I think his focus and attention to detail, his work ethic was much better this year, and he has seen the results.
Q. When you see this team on film, is it as simple as stopping them from hitting that 3 ball and just playing that tough perimeter defense that you've played this season?
COACH THOMPSON III: No, it's not that simple at all. Coach Byrd would never make it that simple. Obviously they have a terrific shooting team, but at the same time, if you get spaced out, if you start just chasing those shooters, their post players are very good and they're very good at finding and they're a very good passing team. The open man always gets the ball. And I think one thing that gets overlooked with them a lot, their transition offense is terrific. They get a lot of points out in transition. If they don't score in transition, they make you guard them. Protecting the 3 point line and stopping the shooters is important, but they're much more complex than that.
Q. The preseason expectations for you guys at least in terms of polls and rankings weren't very high. Do you think your team was undervalued coming into the year, or have you guys just gotten that much better as the season has progressed?
COACH THOMPSON III: No, going into the year, we had so many unknown entities, so many unknown pieces. So it's understandable where the expectations were. Now that being said, as the year has progressed, right from the beginning, I felt we felt that if the stars line themselves properly, that this group could have some success, a lot more success than was anticipated. And so I think we have I've tried to hold them we've tried to hold each other to that standard.
Q. In terms of the past first round knockouts, do you talk to your guys about that at all, or do you want them to not even know about it or is it maybe something you use as motivation?
COACH THOMPSON III: No, we've talked about it. And we've experienced the whole gamut from a Final Four Sweet 16 to the last couple of years, couple early exits. So we're not hiding from it. We've talked about it. But at the same time I want the group that's in that locker room has not lost an NCAA game. We're a much different group than we have been. So we've made that clear also that this group right here is 0 and 0. So let's go out and play.
Q. Speaking of this group, is there to you kind of a defining characteristic or quality that explains what is different about this group or last year's or the year before? Is there a word or an attitude or an ethic?
COACH THOMPSON III: No. I don't think it's one particular thing. And in no way am I trying to I understand why you are doing it, to compare and contrast this group to last year's group to four years ago, to six years ago, to next year's group. This is a unique and different set of personalities, set of talents. And so I don't think there's one thing that makes this group different than last year.
Q. How much did you get to scout Otto Porter when he was in high school since he obviously didn't play much on the AAU circuit, which is typically where you guys make these evaluations, and is he kind of evidence that there's maybe a different way to bringing kids into college basketball that isn't what is now perceived as the norm?
COACH THOMPSON III: I'll answer the second question first. Absolutely. He's someone that didn't go out on the AAU circuit and spend his time at home. Otto is extremely lucky, fortunate, blessed, to be born into the family that he was where he has parents that played, uncles that played, and that pushed him. He was not babied. He was not coddled. He was not led to believe that anything should be given to you. So he arrived on campus. You guys that have covered us have heard me say this a lot this year: The most prepared freshman I've ever coached just in terms of being ready to compete in every aspect of the game right away. That's something that's his family, that maturity, that competitiveness is something that he brought, he walked in the door with. And to answer your first question, I forget exactly, I went out there personally I think three or four times to see him play.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Jason Clark, sort of his seems like a real genuine embrace of the role that he plays this year in the team as the leader. Just as a chance, a real opportunity for him as a contrast to what he kind of had to go through the first three years?
COACH THOMPSON III: In many ways that's a similar answer to the Henry question. You know, he has a different role this year. He has been in many ways in the shadows for three years and now he's a senior. Now we have a very young team. Jason, from day one, from day one has had a work ethic, a commitment to what we're doing. And so that hasn't changed. But now he's one of the old heads in the locker room that can kind of show the young guys exactly what Coach wants.
Q. Did you pay attention to that BYU Iona game? If you did, is that sort of the reminder of the crazy things that can happen this time of year?
COACH THOMPSON III: I actually watched the end of the I did not see that game myself. I saw the reports on that one the next morning. I watched the end of the Mississippi Valley State Western Kentucky game. And so I don't think anyone in this tournament needs a reminder. And as you asked or someone asked earlier, we definitely don't need any reminders you can be knocked off early. Because we've had a couple. But that's the beauty of this tournament. Unlike the pros where you have a series where in most series the best team will win, the beauty of this tournament is that it's one game. And if you don't play well, if the other team plays well, that's what makes this so magical, so special. And the parity I said this back home forget the numbers next to the names on the jerseys, these teams, everybody's good, everybody's very good.
Q. The selflessness that seems to characterize the way your team plays, is that kind of a reflection of who they are as individuals? Or to what extent have you worked on that, preached that, coached that?
COACH THOMPSON III: This group I haven't had to preach that, coach that, instill that too much. We try to do that. I think we have success when you can put five very good players on the court that are unselfish and share the game with each other. Our incoming group for the most part walked in with a competitiveness about them. Our incoming group walked in with a talent level and skill. Our incoming group is an intelligent group across the board that just wants to win. The group in this locker room genuinely everybody is just trying to figure out how we can win games and not thinking about my shots, my touches, my points, my minutes.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.