And Thompson is encouraging the group’s stunning lack of self-awareness. He has actually convinced the No. 16 Hoyas that they’re capable of becoming even better, figuring he has the type of hard-working players who would embrace such a message.
They bonded quickly after their international incident in China in August and have fought together well since, displaying the signature defense and toughness for which Georgetown is known. After losing a bit of their identity over the years, these Hoyas just may be capable of restoring the old swagger.
Obviously, the luster of Georgetown’s fast start would fade quickly if it fails in the brutal, second-to-none Big East conference. Also, the Hoyas haven’t had much fun in the NCAA tournament recently, and March’s spotlight still matters most.
But given where Georgetown — which hosts American University on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center — currently stands, it’s enjoying a much brighter beginning than college basketball observers envisioned.
Winner of six in a row, Georgetown has impressive nonconference victories over Memphis, ranked eighth when the teams played in November, and then-No. 12 Alabama.
The Hoyas’ only loss was by four points to Kansas, currently ranked No. 12, in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Although Georgetown made too few plays down the stretch to beat the loaded Jayhawks, its overall performance was a good initial step for a team starting over without two-time leading scorer Austin Freeman and point guard Chris Wright.
In outlasting Memphis in overtime later in Hawaii, the Hoyas showed improvement. They’ll get the chance to double down on Memphis on Thursday at Verizon.
The nonconference portion of Georgetown’s résumé is a good read and could be great with a second victory against Memphis, “and that’s really the reason you’re writing this,” Thompson said during a recent phone interview. “No one had any expectations of us going into this year.”
Except Thompson did.
Privately, he sensed the group would surprise. He liked the squad’s collective personality. Thompson simply thought he had more with which to work than the so-called experts realized.
“I didn’t know when it would happen,” Thompson said of Georgetown’s development. “I just said to myself, ‘One day [this season], I think we’re gonna be a very good team.’ I believed that.
“The kids have a strong work ethic. They care about what we’re doing and they believe in what we’re doing. Coupled with their talent, I thought all of that would let us get there. That would be what did it.”