John Thompson III

Is there a chance that the Maryland-Georgetown rivalry could restart?


John Thompson III hopped on a podcast with ESPN’s Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, and got asked plenty of questions about his Georgetown program, which just so happens to be the hottest team in the Big East right now.

But the more interesting topics of conversation dealt with much more difficult issues that Otto Porter’s emergence over the past month or the play of Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera in the back court.

Katz, to his credit, was all over JT3 about the future of some of the Hoyas’ most intense rivalries.

“It will continue. It will continue,” Thompson said of the future of the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry. “Now, is it gonna be every year? I don’t know. The unfortunate fact, when they started this process of breaking off, is now they’ve fallen into the clump of out-of-conference scheduling, and that’s a hard balance to try to fit in each and every thing. […] We don’t know who’s gonna be in your league, how many league games you’re going to play.”

That’s great news. Hopefully, the rivalry between the Orange and the Hoyas can continue well into the future. Regardless of how conference realignment decides to shape the college hoops landscape in the coming years, the historical significance of that rivalry should not be lost on people.

But that’s far from the most interesting rivalry nugget that came out of that podcast. Is there a chance that Maryland could end up playing Georgetown in basketball again?

That rivalry has nothing to do with anything that’s happened on the court. Or the soccer pitch. Or the lacrosse field. Or in any sporting event. There’s animosity that dates back decades — to the years of Lefty Driesell and John Thompson Jr. — that won’t easily be swept under the rug.

That said, both JT3 and Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon told Katz that they get along — Thompson’s brother Ronny coached with Turgeon at Oregon — and that there may be a speck of a chance that the Beltway Series can get renewed (transcription via the DC Sportsbog):

“Uh, there are chances that that will happen,” Thompson said first.

“Can you expand?” Katz asked.

“No, I cannot,” Thompson said. “There are chances that that could happen.”

Katz asked for a percentage.

“Um, no idea,” Thompson said. “No idea. And we’ll see as we go forward. I’m a good friend of Turge, let me just say that. And actually Turge and my brother Ronny worked together at Oregon as assistants for Jerry Green, and so Turge and I are friends. We’ll see. That’s a tangled web, that issue.”

“Why is that so tangled, why?” Katz asked.

“I don’t know,” Thompson answered. “I’ve said enough. I’ve said enough.”

Moments later, Turgeon dialed in, and the first question concerned a series with Georgetown.

“There’s a chance,” Turgeon said. “John and I go way back. And I did work with Ronny. I’ve got a lot of respect for John, he’s doing a great job this year with his team. I like watching them play. I hope we can get it started in the future. When we first got here, John and I talked a little bit, but that’s between me and him. But we do have a relationship. I think it’d be great for the area if we could get it done. But we’ll see. We’ll see as we move forward.”

Make this happen.

We’ve had enough rivalries go up in flames thanks to realignment. Reigniting an old one would only be good for the sport.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.