March 18, 2010
Q. Greg, last I saw you here in Providence you were putting on the display of all passing displays with 12 assists. How did you become such a good passer and what is it about that aspect of the game that you like, because for an old fellow such as I it's becoming if not a lost art, kind of a disappearing art?
Greg Monroe: It's something I always had the ability to do. I mean, just growing up when I was taught the game, I was taught all facets of the game. So passing was how I learned the game, a big part of it. So that's something I've carried on as I've played basketball.
Q. Do you have a sense of a particular vision? You seem to see the court, it's not like you're just a big guy, you've got all kinds of touch passes?
Greg Monroe: I can't explain that. I'm just very aware, that's all I can say.
Q. With your strength of schedule, the tops in the country all season long, was it tough to buy into what Coach wanted you to do this weekend and just worry about an Ohio team you guys hadn't seen much of or heard much about this year?
Chris Wright: It's not tough to buy into what Coach is saying, he's our coach, so I think we're obligated to buy in. And he's proven what he says and his philosophy, they work, so we take it one game at a time and we're focusing on Ohio.
Austin Freeman: It's not tough, at all. We just got to just stay focused and pretty much just buy into what Coach is telling us and sticking to details, the little details. Pretty much just worrying about Ohio and what they do and just taking care of business pretty much.
Greg Monroe: What he said, Coach has gotten us this far. This is a very good position to be in right now. So I don't think it's hard for us to do it at all. I think it's the best outlook going into the tournament is taking one game at a time. That means you're totally focused on the task at hand. If you don't have that outlook coming into the tournament you might find yourself in a little more trouble.
Q. You guys are playing your best basketball of the year right now, at the best time of the year. To any of you, what's really clicking for you right now, you came within an eye lash of beating West Virginia that might have been the No. 1 seed in the country, what's working?
Chris Wright: I just think we're really playing together. I think we're executing and getting defensive stops. I think our defense is keying on our offense. We're doing what we have to do at the right time. We all believe in each other. I think that's one of our strongest points is our chemistry. I think we're really honing in on what we have to do and the details we have to make to win games.
Q. Austin, how has the diabetes changed you, your life, your preparation for games, and how startled were you to find out that's what was wrong?
Austin Freeman: Pretty much just changed, my diet and just managing certain things. And pretty much checking my sugars and stuff before games and after, checking it before practice and in the middle of practice and at the end of practice, too. It's a little change but I've gotten used to it. I have to, if I want to keep playing, you know.
Q. Greg, you have played, I believe, 64 consecutive games for Georgetown, a lot of basketball for Georgetown, but have not yet been to an NCAA Tournament. And I know you've not played the game yet, but can you share any early impressions and any thoughts or feelings about looking forward to this particular day?
Greg Monroe: I don't have any impressions. This is my first, you know, NCAA function, as far as coming here. So, I mean, this is the first thing, but I'm still very excited to be a part of this. Me and my teammates are very excited and anxious to play. From a personal standpoint I don't have any first impressions yet. It's still basketball, that's how I look at it.
Q. Do you mind telling us how much of the tournament you watched last year on TV? Do you remember anything about it? Did you watch like first round, second round?
Greg Monroe: I peeked at it, I didn't watch that much of it. Just whatever was on TV, I would stop and watch it. I definitely watched the Final Four, of course.
Q. When I say Ohio University, what's the first thing that comes to mind about them, about their team, et cetera?
Greg Monroe: They won a conference championship. They're here. Every team here in this tournament is good. Today was the first day we actually got into it, we only focused on the teams we played. We don't prepare for them until now. Before I learned they have good guards, try and get up and down the floor. Won the last 7 out of 8, things like that. Other than the teams we have played, not any disrespect to Ohio, but I didn't really know anything about them until the last few days Coach started giving us information on the team.
Q. Chris, how important is it in the flow of your offense to have a big man who can pass the way Greg does?
Chris Wright: It's very important because he attracts so much double teams and because he can score and the many things he can do. I think it's important to have a big man in our system that can pass and create things for other people because he has the ball in his hands a lot of times on the offensive end. He's going to be forced to make decisions. It's very important and we all when he gets the ball we all are tentative and kind of know he's going to do, when he's going to pass, when he's not going to pass. So it's very important. I think it's something that's brought us this far.
Q. Does his touch surprise you, the way he can kind of see guys?
Chris Wright: Not really. He's very good. He can pass. I don't think that's anything that's surprising. We've played with him a long enough time that we're not surprised at the majority of stuff he does, it's just second nature for him.
Q. Chris, can you talk about whether playing in Providence or an arena you know gives you guys any kind of an advantage and what do you think of playing at this venue?
Chris Wright: I don't think it necessarily gives us an advantage. We're familiar with the surroundings and everything, but you've still got to go out there and play. It's just a matter of us executing and doing what we have to do. Providence, obviously plays here, but I don't think that plays a major role. I still think we've still got to go out and execute and focus on Ohio and what they do well.
Q. Can you guys talk about Austin's 3 point shooting over the Big East Tournament. He made a couple right at the end of the West Virginia game. Can you talk about trying to get him back into the flow, are you concerned about that at all going into your game plan?
Chris Wright: I'm not concerned about it at all because, you know, everybody goes through slumps. But when he gets the ball we want him to shoot it every time he's open. We're not worried about that. He was a little off and other people picked up the slack. Austin is going to be fine. I don't think anyone's concerned about that and we know he's going to play well.
Q. We hear so much about the Princeton offense and the structure and the discipline involved, how would you describe the offense that you run? Is it more structured than any offense you ever ran before coming to Georgetown? Does it require more discipline than your average offense, and does Coach Thompson give you more liberties than your strict Princeton offense, so to speak?
Austin Freeman: Well, our offense is pretty much just five people reading each other, playing together, just pretty much reading each other pretty much, that's what our offense is. I mean, we have a little bit of leeway where we can be more aggressive at certain points. But really just five people working together reading each other, playing off of each other pretty much.
Q. Austin, obviously there's a lot of athletes that have had to deal with diabetes and play through it, have you gotten any advice from anyone in particular?
Austin Freeman: Not really. I haven't had the time to talk to Adam Morrison, I was supposed to talk to him, but I just haven't had the time to talk to him. And Jay Cutler, too, I was supposed to talk to him, too, but I just haven't had any time to reach out to them yet. But I've been getting e mails and letters from different people who have had it and just knowing that I have people out there that support me and care, it just keeps me going.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Coach John Thompson III. Coach, opening comments.
COACH THOMPSON III: We're excited to be here. We're very excited to be here. And we're anxious to get going tomorrow.
Q. When you were here last year and Greg put on his dazzling display of passing with 12 assists, I was really very taken and impressed with that. Could you talk about his ability to pass the ball? He makes touch passes, he has great vision, how he sort of acquired that and how important that is to your offense?
COACH THOMPSON III: Obviously that question is twofold, how did he acquire that? It's God given. He can see. He can see, and that's a gift that can't be coached. Now, what he has and there are many people who can see and have the ability to notice what's there, he also has the willingness to make the passes and caring and the understanding and the ability to be a facilitator. So that's just one small aspect of his game.
The kid sees everything that's going on on the court. He's a step or two ahead of everyone else on the court, in terms of understanding what's going to happen in the future. As most passers are, he's unselfish. He's really grown this year into learning and adjusting and adapting. With that ability he still has the responsibility to score. And sometimes people talk about him not being aggressive enough. I think he's at the point now he understands when it's his turn and when he should help his teammates.
Q. The little topic off the game, but the U.S. Education Secretary today said that college basketball teams that don't graduate at least 40 percent of their players should be banned from postseason play. Do you feel that's fair or too much?
COACH THOMPSON III: Who said that?
Q. The U.S. Education Secretary?
COACH THOMPSON III: You know, you ask that question and before I can give an intelligent answer, I have to go back and do a little research. That sounds a little harsh. That's just my initial thought. And that's not in any way, shape or form our responsibility is to help young men grow up. And when you say graduate, what time frame are we talking about? What are the other factors that fall into place? Are we talking about a four year window, five year window, ten year window?
Different institutions you look at the Big East, and we're a league of unlike institutions in terms of the mission of each individual school. And so different schools have different priorities. Any school has to graduate kids. But just to say if you're below a hard core 40 percent number, then you should be banned from postseason play. My initial instinct is that's too cookie cutter without taking so many other factors that come into graduation rates that come into the time frame in which these kids get the opportunity to complete their degree, relative to the normal student body. There's just too many factors to go into that to address that right now.
Q. Could you share any memory you have of whatever emotions you felt coaching your first time in the NCAA Tournament and then maybe extrapolate from that anything that you think that Greg might be about to go through or feeling this weekend making his first time in the tournament?
COACH THOMPSON III: You know, your first time my first time in many ways feels just like this time. You're excited. It's something that does not get old. The opportunity to participate in this tournament is special. It's really, really special. And that has not been lost on me, and it will not be lost it's something he will remember.
He will remember this weekend. He will remember it tomorrow. He will remember this press conference. It's just an opportunity to represent your institution. The work that goes into getting here, you know, you get all the talk and discussion, whether the field should be expanded or not, I don't want to discuss that, but there's such a small number of people, small number of teams that get to sit here, have this chance. It's something special. Whether it's his first time or my whatever number it is.
Q. In a nutshell what do you know about Ohio University, what concerns you? What kind of threat do they pose?
COACH THOMPSON III: I heard Greg say, and he's right, once you get to this time of year every time that's in this tournament is good. And Ohio falls into that category. Every team is well coached, and they fall into that category. Every team has good players. They're playing very well right now. They accomplished something we couldn't accomplish, winning four games in four days in their conference. Their back court is talented and.
John, their coach, has coached against us twice in the postseason when he was an assistant at Ohio State. So what we do and how we do it is not necessarily going to be a surprise to them or to him. They're a good team. You don't come out of that conference, you don't win that conference tournament without being very, very good.
Q. Having grown up as you did and playing the collegiate system as you did and running the offense you now run, it seems that passing is if not a lost art at least an endangered species. Is it harder to find good passers now? In general there aren't as many good passers as there used to be? Has the game changed to that extent, maybe?
COACH THOMPSON III: What does our system have to do with that?
Q. Because you pass the ball very well, you have five kids that can pass it, cut and move?
COACH THOMPSON III: I don't know. Is passing a lost art? No, we like guys that are unselfish. And I guess your question was, is passing a lost art?
Q. In a sense, yeah. They don't seem to me in my day everybody had a good point guard that could pass the ball. But the vision thing, to use a Washington phrase?
COACH THOMPSON III: I'm not sure if I think there's just as many passers out here now as there always have been, to tell you truth. I think you'll see in this tournament, in the next couple of weeks, the teams that go far are the ones that have good point guards and can pass the ball. I don't think necessarily that has changed necessarily down through the years.
Q. For those of us outside who don't see your team on quite the regular basis it would seem from the West Virginia game coming forward, I guess, from your regular season finale through the Big East Tournament that you guys have elevated your play. Would you agree to that assessment? If so, what has been the single biggest factor or biggest few factors in there?
COACH THOMPSON III: We're playing well right now. I don't want to use the word elevating our play. We had a good week in New York, obviously. Leading up to that week we were not a healthy team, literally, physically, so we went through a ten day stretch or so, maybe slightly longer we're not healthy. And at this point I'm not just talking about Austin, obviously he's the biggest one that's gained the most notoriety, for good reason. But we're healthy now. And we're playing well.
Q. Do you see the team playing better offensively, defensively? Can you give an example of maybe a play where you've seen something happen that the guys weren't doing as well earlier in the season?
COACH THOMPSON III: No. And there's nothing, necessarily tangible. You're looking for a specific, hey, they're doing X now and they were not doing that as well. We're figuring each other out. There's nothing in particular. Things just seem to be working. That's hard to say when your last game is a loss. But leading up to that, I think we're at a good place right now.
Q. One of your Big East brethren, Bobby Gonsalez was let go today. Care to get your opinion. Both your reaction to that news and I guess in a very general sense after that just the pressures now that coaches find themselves under winning, what have you, 19, 20 games, guys in the NCAA tournaments still getting fired in some cases?
COACH THOMPSON III: Without knowing the particulars. I heard that just as we were walking in. Obviously it's a difficult profession, but there are a lot of difficult professions. You look at the Big East this year and so far we have three we've lost three coaches with DePaul, St. John's and now Seton Hall. And obviously that draws attention this time of year, because this is when it happens and this is when we have the big stage for you to ask those questions.
But it's difficult. It's difficult. But that's the life we lead. Every job, every occupation, to a certain degree, is difficult.
Q. You said an while ago you like guys who are unselfish, how do you identify guys who are unselfish when you're recruiting and stuff? Greg, did he jump out at you as he could be that kind of guy?
COACH THOMPSON III: You've got to get lucky, because it's hard to tell. With Greg it was easy. Just the passing is something that you see. It just happens. He threw passes in high school. He threw passes on the summer circuit. And so you saw just he had the ability to do that.
With that being said, if you can get a team full of very good, very talented players, people that individually can create and then create and convince them that if they help and they share, help each other, then the unit will be that much stronger. It's a process, as with everything else. As with everything else that goes along with 18 to 22 years old.
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