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March 30, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. We'll get started with Georgetown head coach John Thompson, III. We'll ask that you make an opening comment.
COACH THOMPSON: We're excited about being here and hopefully we can come out and play well.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, we'll take questions. Questions for Coach Thompson.
Q. The experience factor, you have some players that are a little bit older than Ohio State's freshmen. How much do you think that's going to play out? How much did you learn last year from that game against Florida?
COACH THOMPSON: I think going through the process of getting to the tournament last year going to the Sweet 16 gives you experience. At the same time we still are an extremely young people. We don't have any seniors that play significant minutes.
We also have a core group of freshmen and sophomores that didn't play that many minutes last year that are now here for the first time. So I don't think that experience, per se, is in our favor. Particularly this time of year, once you get to this time of year, once you get here, what year you are is irrelevant.
Every team here is playing well. Every team here is well-coached. Every team here is a confident team.
Q. You played Ohio State last year in the tournament. Interested in your thoughts about how different they are this time around?
COACH THOMPSON: It's two totally different teams. Their team as well as our team. You look at that game because, you know, you just want to look at how they approach things, how we approach things, and you throw it out, you just start to look and prepare with the teams and games they've had this year.
They are significantly different, as are we. Two totally different teams.
Q. A lot of talk about this being the Final Four of old school big men. Did you all ever have any issue with Roy wanting to be a new school big man where he wanted to roam out beyond the arc?
COACH THOMPSON: People have taken a fancy to talking about the differences between how I do things and how Pops did things. It's still not a democracy. Roy, I let him know what he's going to do. He's been extremely willing. He's been extremely able.
The way we do things, he does get the opportunity. He's a very good passer. We put him in positions where he can make passes with his back to the basket as well as facing the basket.
Clearly his strengths, his assets are in and around the paint. He's worked extremely hard to improve.
Q. How mindful do you have to be of Ron Lewis for Ohio State?
COACH THOMPSON: Mindful? Extremely mindful (laughter). He's a terrific player who has been playing at an extremely high level right at the end of the year when they need him to.
So much of the attention, so much of the focus goes to Greg, as it should. But they are here. They're an extremely dangerous team because they have so many different pieces that can hurt you. Ron is a key part of that.
They can hurt you in many different ways. They have a lot of different weapons, a lot of different answers.
Q. Can you tell me your favorite memory of your grandfather, what it means to carry on the name that way?
COACH THOMPSON: My favorite memory of my grandfather? My dad in his old age, you know, he's someone that when he sat in this seat would never talk about anything. So now he's taking to telling the whole world all of my business, wanting to open up and start talking about the family (smiling).
My grandfather is the reason that I'm sitting here. It's the work ethic. That's the thing that I remember, is him coming in the house, being over my grand mom's, grand pop's house, him being exhausted, tired, just the work he put in to put my pops in the position to have the opportunities that he did and on down the line.
Q. Would you comment on Conley and his development?
COACH THOMPSON: His poise is beyond his years. You watch him play. He's an extremely poised player. He doesn't make that many mistakes. He does a very good job of knowing when it's his turn to get baskets as well as when it's his turn to help and assist his teammates. Just his overall demeanor. He doesn't get rattled. He always seems to make the right plays at the right times.
Q. Stats alone don't tell the whole story about what Jeff Green means to your team. Can you fill in the blanks and what he means beyond the numbers?
COACH THOMPSON: If you're talking about Jeff Green, don't even look at the stat sheet. They're completely irrelevant. You're talking about someone that from the day he walked in the door, his goal was to win and to try to put us in a position to win, try to help our team get better.
People have made the mistake with him, picking up the stat sheet, looking at our year-to-date stats, never seen him play, but Green is only doing this, this, this and this.
He has the unique ability to thoroughly dominate a game without scoring points, to thoroughly dominate a game with his pass, thoroughly dominate a game with his understanding, his ability to place other people on the floor where they can have success.
I've said it before. I'm extremely happy that Jeff won our conference Player of the Year, that Jeff won our tournament MVP, that Jeff won the Eastern Regional Player award just because he's someone that when you look at his statistics, and a lot of people do, they look at the numbers, determine this person's good because they're scoring X, this person's not good because they're scoring Y.
Very few people that can do what Jeff Green can do, the ways and different spots on the floor like he can.
Q. Could you comment on the significance of you and Patrick following your fathers in this program, and also the significance of the differences between this generation and the one before?
COACH THOMPSON: I'll let you guys do that honestly. I'm not sure -- I, as the coach of Georgetown University, right now am extremely happy that I have Patrick Ewing, Jr. on my team.
What he brings to our team, he's a key part of us being here right now. I said this relative to him last year when he was sitting out. He won games for us last year when he couldn't play just with his energy, his enthusiasm, his personality that is extremely contagious.
As a coach here now, I'm extremely happy and fortunate to have him here.
Q. With so many sons of successful athletes in this Final Four, Florida, Ohio State, should we consider that unusual? A lot of times successful parents struggle with whether their children should follow them down the same career path.
COACH THOMPSON: I don't know the answer to that question. I know relative to our team, all of our parents have been supportive. Myself, Patrick, Jeremiah, I think we have a comfort level with who we are. We'll let everyone else analyze, compare and contrast, go through the process.
I said at the banquet last night, I told Jeremiah a couple weeks ago, We're the son of team. Look up, Florida might be the son of team also.
That's for you guys to talk about. To us, it is difficult because of the success that our parents have had for you guys to pull it apart and differentiate.
You know, John Thompson is my dad. That's what he is to me. Patrick Ewing is Little Pat's dad. On down the line. Glen is Jeremiah's dad.
Q. Along those same lines, did the fact that you came here first to Georgetown, had to kind of follow in your father's footsteps, did that help you at all in having Pat create his own identity here?
COACH THOMPSON: No, Patrick had his own identity in high school. He had his own identity initially when he went to Indiana. Obviously there's a bond, an understanding. He's extremely comfortable and has been with who he is.
Q. A lot has been made of the Roy/Oden match-up. Can you talk about the challenges of coaching a young kid growing into his own body?
COACH THOMPSON: That is exactly the process that has been. When you see Roy Hibbert today, he's so much different than what he was three years ago, two years ago when he walked in the door as a freshman, someone we literally had to show how to run, how to catch. He is light-years from where he was then.
At the same time four, five, ten years from now, he'll be light-years ahead of where he is now. He is someone that is a sponge. He is someone that has been -- is extremely intelligent and has been extremely willing with everything that we've shown him.
It has been and it is a process. But if you have someone that wants to be good, and Roy has a desire to be very good, he has a work ethic that has been terrific. You couple that with his willingness, he's only going to continue to get better.
Q. You talked about having to be more mindful with Lewis. When Ohio State puts Hunter in the game to possibly give themselves a better match-up against your frontline, anything in particular you have to be aware of with Hunter, what he can do?
COACH THOMPSON: Their team in general. I mean, I don't think there's any specifics. I'm not going to walk through what we're going to do when Billy is in as opposed to when Bobby is in.
They have a very good team. They have a very balanced team. They have a team that plays extremely well together. They pose a lot of challenges. I don't think this is the place to start going through each and every substitution. They're here because of their unity. They're here because of their unselfishness.
Q. The more college and NBA coaches take of the Princeton offense, when you look at what you do, think back to when Coach Carril was in this tournament, what percentage would you say you really run of what he ran? How much do people get away from what maybe he was doing at that time?
COACH THOMPSON: When I say the Princeton offense, one thing: Coach Carril. But I think of guys playing together and movement and motion, unselfishness. When you say "what percentage"? If you watch us play this year, what we do is dramatically different than what we did last year.
If you watch my team this year, it's dramatically different than what my teams at Princeton did. If you look at what we do, it's dramatically different than what the Wizards do, dramatically different than what the Nets do.
At the same time the flow of the game is the same. I think in coaching I've talked about this a lot. I think that the way the Princeton offense and snippets of it, bits and pieces of it, I think a lot of teams in the pros have started to scratch the surface in how it can be used.
If you get the best players in the world playing together, moving the ball, having some of the things we try to accomplish, you will not be able to stop it.
Q. Vernon Macklin, what sort of year has he had? How might he factor in tomorrow night?
COACH THOMPSON: We'll see how he factors in tomorrow night. Vernon has a year, as a lot of freshmen do, settling into his own, working extremely hard. He's someone that is a key part of what we do, what we will do in the future going down the road. He's someone that comes and has worked hard every day.
He has gone from someone that is just an athlete, has a very good understanding of the game, a very, very good understanding of the game. His skills, he's worked extremely hard. He's improving every day.
But he's someone that -- it's the way he sees the game, it's terrific. The way he understands. He can visualize what's supposed to happen two, three passes down the line. Something that not that many people have that gift.
Q. The other time you played in the Dome this season you didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Does that concern you?
COACH THOMPSON: Are you trying to jinx us? When was that?
COACH THOMPSON: Syracuse, okay. No, I'm not concerned about that. We can add another question since that answer was so short (laughter).
Q. Who would win if your team played the '84 team and why?
COACH THOMPSON: I have no clue. I have no clue. Like I said, we have not gone about comparing and contrasting what we do, how we do to that group. I don't know.
Q. Have you actually had to sit down with Roy and say that just because we are making so much, maybe fans are making so much of Roy against Greg, don't get caught up in that?
COACH THOMPSON: No, I have not. One of the strengths of our team has been our understanding that we are a team. One of the strengths of our team, and I may have said this today, the belief that the guys have in each other, the belief that the guys have in what we are doing and how we are doing it.
I don't think that's necessary. Roy understands how we put ourselves in the position to get here. He's not going to all of a sudden stray from that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH THOMPSON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jeff Green and Jonathan Wallace.
Q. Jeff, talk about the legacy of this team with all the famous dads, Georgetown with John Thompson, Jr., even Patrick Ewing, his dad, the impact that has.
JEFF GREEN: It's kind of funny. Just to watch them when you were younger, then get to play with his son, it's fun to do that, especially him coming to all the games, him being a former player.
But this is an experience that you never forget, meeting those guys who walked through this program and played for him. It's a great feeling.
JONATHAN WALLACE: Just goes to show the family ties and so forth within the program. That's our kind of show on the side. I guess you got to stay focused on what is in tune with us.
Q. Jeff, coach was in here a few minutes ago and said that you can dominate the game without scoring. When you see a stat sheet, what do you look at?
JEFF GREEN: Rebounds and assists. I like to feed my teammates the ball whenever they're open. I don't look at points too much because you can't judge a person by his points.
I like to look at how many rebounds I got because I like to help my team get one stop, try to get on the opposite end, try to help them score. I take what the defense give me. I look for my shot, but I'm not going to force anything.
My favorite, you know, stat is the assists.
Q. Jeff, Oden has been in foul trouble the last three games. Teams have been taking the ball at him. When you play a shot blocker, is that the way you prefer to play against one?
JEFF GREEN: Yeah, you have to. You can't back down and just settle for a perimeter shot. You have to go into him, try to make the -- make him make the call. You can't sit back and settle for jump shots. You have to take the ball to the rim. Just take it strong. If he blocks it, he blocks it, but you got to keep going at 'em, try to get him in foul trouble. That's the way team' have been hanging in with Ohio State is getting him in foul trouble. You got to take it to the rim.
Q. A lot is made about the center match-up, and Oden clearly has gotten billing since the day he started on campus. Hibbert has had to develop to become a prominent center. What do you remember about the last couple years about the way Roy has developed?
JEFF GREEN: He's a workaholic. His freshman year he didn't play that much. He came to me, he told me that he wanted to help me out. He saw me banging every night down there, playing the center spot, a position I'm comfortable at, but playing guys in our conference who are 7'2", almost 300 pounds, a guy like Aaron Gray, going to weigh your body down.
He's been working hard trying to make his-self better. I think you can see over the three years that he's been working very hard. His success has skyrocketed since his freshman year.
I think he's just been in the gym, working hard, trying to get his game better. I guess he has a tough match-up against Greg Oden tomorrow. The best player that shows up tomorrow will lead their team to win. It's going to be a good match-up between us.
Q. What is it like to have your coach say you're the smartest player he's ever coached? How long have you had that ethic about rebounds and assists meaning more than points? And John, what does Jeff mean to you out there with that kind of approach to the game?
JEFF GREEN: To the first question, it's a great compliment from my coach to say that. That's one of the things that I take pride on, somebody knowing how to make plays, not to force anything, to be smart on the court.
To your second question, I've always been one of the type of guys who loves to help my teammates out. I'm not a selfish player. I'm probably the most intelligent player in the country. I'd rather pass first than shoot because I like to see my teammates have success.
But I've been like that since day one, since I started playing basketball. My father always installed that in me, always help your teammates out, don't be a selfish guy. It takes five players on the floor to win a game. You got to have trust in your teammates. I've been like that since day one.
JONATHAN WALLACE: Jeff means a lot to us as far as his versatility. He can help us out as far as the perimeter plays go. When you have mismatches down low, he can go down low and hurt you.
Like he's mentioned, rebounds and assists, he helps in every facet of the game. With somebody being able to pretty much be all over the court and be a dominant force doing it is very special to us as a team.
Q. What did the team learn from the game against Florida last year in terms of experience? Do you think the fact that you have a couple players who are older than Ohio State's freshmen, that could be an advantage?
JEFF GREEN: Well, from last year's game against Florida, I think we learned how to close out games better. As you see throughout our season, the way we close out games has been much better.
Against Florida last year, we allowed them to get the three-point play which pretty much sealed the deal for them winning that game with Corey Brewer. I think our team came back . We learned from those mistakes, which made our team better. We installed that early on with the freshmen that came in. They've been working with us pretty well with that.
JONATHAN WALLACE: Like Jeff said, just developing the killer instinct, from what we took from the Florida game last year, been very key for us this year, being strong towards the end of games. Like he said, being able to close out.
As far as maturity goes, against Ohio State we've had some -- we got some guys that are pretty experienced as far as tournament play, but at the same time we're kind of both new to this stage, this level of the tournament.
At this point X's and O's don't really make that much of a difference any more. It's going to be who plays with the most intensity, the most heart at this point in time, who is going to come out on top.
Q. Some people have said that offense has prevented you from becoming a dominant player because you don't shoot as much. As far as ball handling, passing, how much more of a well-rounded player have you become because of it?
JEFF GREEN: Oh, probably the best in the past years. High school I was mostly a post player. I think this offense allows you to show your versatility, it allows you to play different positions. It makes you handle the ball. I think that's one thing that can help me down the road in my career playing basketball. That's why I love this offense so much because it allows you to get better at things that you need to 'cause you don't want to be just a player, especially in my position, who is only known for just being in the low post.
Having all-around game can help you in different situations because if you have a smaller guy, you can post him up, you have a big guy, you can go past him. I think this offense allows you to show different things in your game.
Q. This can be a very overwhelming event emotionally. This is big. Neither of you have ever been here. What do you have to do to make sure you're not emotionally overwhelmed when you take the court?
JONATHAN WALLACE: Pretty much just do what we've been doing all season. We are thankful to be in such positions. But like coach keeps telling us, you have to put it all in perspective as you go along. When we first came here the first two days, so forth, all the fanfare has been pretty much taken over at this point.
Now you're going in the scouting report, keying in more on the game. Now it's time to really buckle down and do what we've been doing all season.
Q. Jeff, when you were watching games growing up, did you watch Princeton in the NCAA tournament? When he came to a school that was going to run somewhat of that offense, what were your first thoughts? How is it different than what you thought back to those games?
JEFF GREEN: Actually, I watched one recently. I didn't watch it when I was younger. Recently when we was in Winston-Salem, I think the upset UCLA was on, because one of our assistant coaches played on that team.
It was good to see how the teams previous before us ran the offense. When I saw it, I didn't think nothing of it. It was a great offense. Especially with the group of guys we have, it's much better because we have guys who are athletic that can play multiple positions. I think that's what makes our offense so much better.
Q. Jonathan, you guys were the only team last weekend to be outscored at the free-throw line in both games. Does that put a bit of a chip on your shoulder? Do you feel that you have to be better than your best? What does that do to you?
JONATHAN WALLACE: I think it gives us a little confidence that teams may have an edge on us on some facets of the game. When it's all said and done, we still have the chance. No matter what, we could be down, but never out. I guess that confidence going to the latter part of games keeps this team alive and gives us the energy to kind of prevail in the end in tough situations.
Q. You beat Ohio State in the tournament. Can you explain how different this team is you're facing tomorrow? Can you bring anything from last year that helps you?
JEFF GREEN: You can't. They have I think it's like five freshmen who are playing right now. A lot of their seniors that was there last year that we won against are gone. I would think they're a much faster team with Greg Oden being down there, who is much quicker than last year's team.
You can't look back at last year's game and think the same outcome is going to happen. You have to go into this game with a different mindset. It's going to be a tough match-up.
Q. Georgetown is probably less of an image, less of a national image than the other three teams here. What do you think the image of your team is, whether you feel that?
JONATHAN WALLACE: From the start, we've always felt that we were a capable team to be playing this time of year. We had to grow and mature as the season went on. A lot of people don't want to give you the time to mature. They want instant success.
As a team, we stay close-knit together, and we knew if we worked hard enough eventually we could be at this position. That's exactly what we've done. We just got to keep that same mindset of being consistent, being precise in what we do in order to keep getting wins at this time of year.
JEFF GREEN: John pretty much said it. We are a team who stuck together, who knew it was going to take time for us to, you know, get better. That's what we did. During the Big East season, we got better each game. I think that's what it takes to make it to this level. I feel like we keep having the success we've been having, we can do a lot of damage in this tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much and good luck.
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