Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

‘I’ve Been Impressed with How Hard People Have Worked’

Graphic by Charles Nailen/The Hoya Esherick

Hoya Staff Writer Julie Wood sat down with George-town en’s Basketball Head Coach Craig Esherick to get his thoughts on the upcoming season. Here is the transcript from her interview.

At the beginning of last season there was a big incentive to go to the NCAA tournament because none of the players had ever been. Now that you went to the Sweet 16 last year, are you worried about a decrease in intensity?

I am worried, but I’m only worried because I’m a coach. I’m not worried because of anything that they have done. I’ve been impressed with how hard people have worked over the offseason and how hard practices have been the first couple days, how they’ve worked during the preseason. And there’s nothing that I can tell you that has happened to make me think that there is going to be a drop off, other than I’m a coach, and I worry. You know, we did make the Sweet 16 .

We had Midnight Madness Friday night. We’ve never had a idnight Madness as good as we had this Friday ever since I’ve been here. There have never been that many people. There were more people in McDonough than have been here since we played issouri. There were more people in this gym for Midnight Madness than I’ve ever seen. There were more people at the pep rally than I’ve ever seen. Those are two great signs to me that the students are excited. And I’m hoping that that is not a sign that the guys should be overconfident. They haven’t been yet, and there’s nothing to make me think that they are overconfident.

What do you think about this year’s freshman class?

I think that those four players [guards Tony Bethel and Drew Hall and forwards Darrel Owens and Harvey Thomas] will all be starters eventually at Georgetown. When they will, I don’t know, but I’m extremely happy with their ability. I’m happy with their skill level; I’m happy with their attitude. I think that in terms of where they were ranked, I think that all four of them were under-recruited, and I think that they’ll show people that they deserved to be ranked a little bit higher.

The luxury that we have this year that we haven’t had in a long time is that I don’t have to worry as much about [point guard Kevin Braswell] getting in foul trouble; I don’t have to worry as much about Kevin not shooting the ball well; I don’t have to worry as much about Kevin getting hurt. His first three years here, Kevin was only our really legitimate point guard against a top-quality team, so I was scared to death every time we played in the first half and Kevin picked up two falls. Now I think Kevin can be more aggressive because Drew is a very good back-up point guard, and I think that’s going to be the role that’s Drew going to play .

The thing I like about the freshmen is that the freshmen, all of them, don’t mind playing defense. Usually you have to recruit offensive players and turn them into defensive players and convince them it’s important to play defense. All four of those kids can play defense and offense. They have skills on offense, and they can play defense. Drew has really pushed Kevin through the first 10 days of practice. Drew is not an easy person to have guard you, and Kevin has found that out. That will end up being good for Kevin and good for Drew.

What are the strengths and weakness of this year’s team?

I think the improvement that we have to make is going to be on offense. I don’t think we shot the ball well last year as well as we were capable of shooting the ball, and I think our shot selection, well, it got better – we were the second leading scoring team in the Big East – but I think we can even be better on offense. I think as long as these guys have the Georgetown name on their jerseys, they’re going to be good on defense. And so defensively I’m not worried. I think we’re going to be real quick on defense, and I think we’re going to be quicker on offense than we were last year. Rebounding concerns me right now because of the loss of Lee [Scruggs] and Ruben [Boumtje Boumtje].

Where do you see Georgetown finishing in the Big East?

I like our chances in the league. I think Connecticut’s going to be good. I think Providence has a lot of people back; I’m glad we’re not playing Providence this year. I think Boston College did a little bit of what we’ve done. The players that they have returning have confidence because of the season they had. Connecticut has Caron Butler back, who was with [sophomore forward Mike Sweetney] in Japan [playing for the National team]. I think they’re going to be pretty good. Syracuse has one of the best players in the league back, and they’re going to be pretty good.

What is Head Coach Emeritus John Thompson’s current involvement with the Hoyas?

Sometimes the best thing that he can do is he’ll end up sitting by the door over there [in McDonough] and as the guys are leaving [practice] he’ll talk to them and find out what they’re up to. It gives them a different perspective, and I think it’s a great thing that we have at this program. I think there’s only one other program that has a similar person, and that’s North Carolina with Dean Smith. It provides them with another person of authority that can give the kids advice, that can mentor the kids, that can talk to them about some of the things that he experienced. I mean, he coached for 33 years. He was a high school coach for six and he coached here for 27, and he knows this university inside and out. He knows professional basketball, college basketball, and high school basketball inside and out. He’s a member of the media now, so he can advise them about things in relation to that, such as how to present yourself. So there’s just a wealth of knowledge there that really is one of the strong points of our program.

– Interview by Julie Wood

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