The Georgetown University basketball team is practicing at a double-time pace this season, and it's not just because every player except highly touted freshman Anthony Tucker has at least a year's experience in Coach John Thompson's system.
Thompson also is the 1988 U.S. Olympic coach, so he's trying to cram two fulltime jobs into one -- getting his Hoyas ready to defend their Big East Conference championship without Reggie Williams and scouting potential players and opponents for the Olympic team.
The two jobs are sure to conflict and Thompson isn't sure how much of a negative effect it will have on the Hoyas. "It's going to take my time and it's going to take my attention, and I really don't know," he said yesterday at the Hoyas' media day. "People who have done it have told me it's an enormous amount of time and an enormous amount of pressure. The time is the pressure."
Thompson, who enters his 16th year at Georgetown, already is planning to turn some preseason practices over to his assistants, so he can watch his Olympic candidates against international competition. "I don't want to go into the trials without seeing what guys do in their own habitat," he said. "I might miss a few days here, but I feel confident with the people here."
Thompson said he would not put the Olympics on a back burner if he saw his Hoyas slipping during the season. "No, I definitely wouldn't," he said.
As is his style, Thompson is not making predictions about Georgetown's success this season. But there are a few things Thompson does expect, such as forward Perry McDonald and guard Charles Smith having larger scoring roles this season because of the absence of Williams, the 1986-87 Big East player of the year whose 23.6 scoring average last season is the highest in Thompson's tenure at Georgetown.
Thompson also expects his team to improve at defending the perimeter because of the quickness of Tucker and forward Johnny Jones, a transfer from the University of the District of Columbia.
McDonald, a senior, developed as the team's second-best scorer and rebounder and best inside player a year ago even though he is only 6 feet 4. He averaged almost 30 points per game as a high school senior and Thompson expects not only leadership, but points from him.
Thompson said he re-evaluated Smith's role during last season when he showed offensive potential. After a summer of international competition in which Smith scored consistently, Thompson said, "Charles' personality on the team will change dramatically. He's going to be a focal point on this team."