Back-door cuts, brush screens and secrets to fluid ball-reversal may compose his calling, but the identity of John Thompson III will forever be linked to the Georgetown University motto “Ultaque unum.”
The Latin translation of “Both into One,” the Georgetown slogan encapsulates the university’s mission of uniting faith and reason. Or in the case of the youngest Thompson, blind faith and a bleak reality. Remember to balance both when evaluating his coaching portfolio.
[Blind] Faith: He’s the Big East coach of the year, shares the Thompson surname, represents the university well and is a consummate nurturer of young men. He’s loyal, genuine and soft-spoken, quite unlike his father. He’s not Craig Esherick.
[Harrowing] Reason: His outmoded, maladaptive coaching philosophy doesn’t pass muster in a steadily evolving sport, least of all in a high-quality tournament setting. What worked in the Ivy League with middling talent equates to an upset invitation in the high-stakes environment of March Madness. Loyalty to a university is commendable. Loyalty to an out-of-style offensive system at the expense of his university is where the line is drawn. Hell, Craig Esherick didn’t bomb in the tournament this badly in the two years his teams made it.
A regular season coaching ace responsible for an unprecedented string of early tournament washouts, Thompson III is living the Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle. That’s “Both into One” alright. Too bad for his legacy the reason will forever outweigh the faith.
The Princeton-turned-Georgetown head coach has become a pillar of transparency and predictability, his recent track record marred by recurring postseason hiccups. Forget the coach of the year award or any tournament-exclusive context, like how Georgetown actually overachieved during the regular season. Thompson works in a trade that gives special weight to final exams. And he’s been flunking his for several years past the makeup deadline.