Georgetown prefers to see positive of China brawl
Jason Clark smiled when the opening question posed at Thursday's media day was about Georgetown's brawl during a game against a Chinese team in August.
''I knew that one was coming,'' the senior guard said.
Coach John Thompson III and his Hoyas are subscribing to a theory about that ugly episode in Beijing, where players scuffled, Clark wound up knocked to the court, chairs and water bottles went flying, and the game never was played to its conclusion.
They think the ''global incident,'' as Thompson called it, might have helped bring the Hoyas together.
It certainly forced the big group of incoming freshmen to grow up quickly.
''Being a part of that, going through that experience, I do think helped, has helped, expedite the coming-together process of this team because, quite literally, they realized you've got to have each other's back. Literally, figuratively. And they've been through that,'' Thompson said.
''Just the understanding that our success and our ability to fight - yes, the pun is intended - through situations: We're going to have to lean on each other,'' he added.
His squad has no shortage of rallying points heading into this season:
-The Hoyas, steeped in their proud tradition, haven't won a single NCAA tournament game since 2008, and they only won one that year.
-The team lost seniors Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Julian Vaughn, who accounted for 54 percent of the scoring and 61 percent of the assists last season.
-With five freshmen and five sophomores, there's a lot of inexperience.
-No one, it seems - with the probable exceptions of Thompson and his players themselves - is anticipating a whole lot of success.
''You lose three big-time seniors, I guess that's the way it works. I don't think it fazes any of us here,'' said junior forward Hollis Thompson, who is not related to the coach. ''We come and work hard every day. I'm looking forward to the season. If people want to sleep on us, that's fine.''
Georgetown went 21-11 last season, including 10-8 in Big East play, and lost its opening NCAA tournament game to VCU, which went on to reach the Final four. Freeman led the way, averaging a team-leading 17.6 points, while Wright provided 12.9 points and a team-high 5.3 assists. Vaughn averaged 7.8 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds.
Clark, third on the Hoyas last season with a 12-point average, is expected to fill in the gaps both on the court and off it.
''I kind of feel like the grandfather of the team,'' he said. ''I feel like I'm old, but I'm really not. I feel like I do have to take that leadership role. I do have to be there for everybody else. We have a very young team.''
One that began to grow up far from home this summer.
''We had an unfortunate incident, but I think the rest of the trip was great,'' Clark said of the 10-day visit to China.
Speaking specifically about the brawl, he said: ''It definitely strengthened us. It definitely brought us a lot closer. ... Having five new players and players leave from last year and we didn't know what to expect. Now we know that when we do go through things - and you do go through things in life like that - that everybody has each other's back and we're a solid-knit group.''