John Thompson III acknowledged yesterday that it has been difficult trying to balance his duties as Georgetown's men's basketball coach with his personal responsibilities to his wife, who learned last month that she has cancer. The Hoyas depart for Oregon, their longest road trip of the season, today; they will face the Ducks on Saturday afternoon.

Monica Thompson had the cancer diagnosed during the week leading up to Georgetown's season opener, at Navy on Nov. 18. She underwent surgery Friday, the day before the Hoyas (2-1) hosted Vanderbilt.

Thompson, 39, said that he never considered taking a leave of absence from coaching, a decision that his wife supports. But it has been a difficult couple of weeks.

"Everyone has been supportive and great, and I really appreciate that," said Thompson, a noted workaholic who is in his second season as Georgetown's coach. "We must keep going."

Thompson, who prefers to keep his personal life private, met Monica while both were undergraduates at Princeton. She has been a fixture at Georgetown games, sitting with the couple's three children, all of whom are younger than 8.

Hall of Fame coach John Thompson Jr. praised his daughter-in-law on his WTEM-980 radio show on Monday afternoon, describing the way she prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for her family and the Georgetown players the day before she underwent surgery.

-- Camille Powell