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Don't forget how far the Georgetown Hoyas have come in six years under John Thompson III

Slick-passing Greg Monroe, center, is the kind of superstar athlete that Georgetown appeared unable to attract in 2004, Coach John Thompson III's first year with the program.
Slick-passing Greg Monroe, center, is the kind of superstar athlete that Georgetown appeared unable to attract in 2004, Coach John Thompson III's first year with the program. (Jonathan Newton/the Washington Post)
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By Mike Wise
Sunday, March 14, 2010

"I see no reason why Georgetown basketball can ever be as successful as it was. There's no evidence of that. I think they need a superstar. Why would a superstar go there?"

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-- Billy Packer, 2004

Six years later, why wouldn't a superstar go there? Greg Monroe can show him around the Hilltop, buy him a burger. Maybe the kid will go on to play in a Big East tournament final as riveting as the one on Saturday night.

Forget the Hoyas lost a pulse-checking game against West Virginia for just a moment. Taking the temperature of a program used to be an annual rite of athletic directors and university presidents. Now it's a postgame ritual for everyone. The thermometer is the Internet, and it doesn't matter how accurate the reading is. We all want to know how far away the mountaintop is and how come we haven't yet arrived.

Like restless brats in the back seat of the minivan, we get nostalgic for, like, last week. Arewethereyet? Arewethereyet? Genuine reflection in these times only happens at team banquets and in the fine print of unread media guides.

But for just one moment today, we need to go back to 2004, to where Georgetown came from.

It's good to remember that on the day after their third Big East title game appearance in six years under John Thompson III, on the eve of yet another Selection Sunday that will include the Hoyas.

"I'm not surprised they turned it around so quickly to be honest," Packer, the former CBS college basketball analyst, said from his home in Charlotte on Saturday night. "I saw John's teams at Princeton. I knew he could coach. It is something to witness, the rise of that program that his father rebuilt again. I'm happy for them."

Six years after irrelevancy, they have won two Big East regular season titles, a conference tournament championship, been to one Final Four and are on the cusp of securing another NCAA tournament bid -- a feat almost taken for granted outside the Hilltop.


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