Conference upheaval creates distraction for Georgetown

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

It's hard for Thompson III, players to disregard it

John Thompson III hasn't talked to his players -- and says they haven't come to him either -- about the revolving door in the Big East. Louisville became the latest departure Wednesday, the day after the conference added Tulane and -- in football only -- East Carolina.

The Georgetown coach has plenty of more immediate concerns, including developing a deeper bench and getting his starting unit to improve. The latest gauge on their progress will come when the Hoyas (4-1) find themselves in another high-profile early-season encounter, this time with Tennessee (4-1) in the Big East/SEC challenge.

But somehow conference realignment has a knack for getting in the way.

Up next
Tennessee at No. 20 Georgetown
When » Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » ESPN

"It's important stuff that's going on," Thompson said. "But you can become so engrossed with that, you really do forget about Tennessee."

When the dominoes of conference abandonment began to fall, Thompson held fast to the Hoyas' Big East allegiance, preaching that it still arguably was the best conference in college basketball.

In some ways the growth of the Big East's footprint into a potential national one fits Georgetown's ambitions as a program. The Hoyas are anxious to get their recruiting hooks into the Houston and Memphis regions and thus welcome the Cougars and Tigers.

But the Cardinals' exit -- on the heels of Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia all making their way to other conferences -- forced Thompson to modify his good soldier stance.

"What I think is important is I'm the coach of Georgetown, and Georgetown has always been good," Thompson said. "Before the Big East, the Big East as we have known it, we've been good during the current Big East and we're going to be good in the future, whatever the future holds. I'm not a fortune teller. But I do know that we will be good."

Thompson declined to comment on whether it would be a good idea for the Big East's basketball-only members to band together and form their own group.

The players understand that the future conference home for other Big East schools or even Georgetown has little bearing on the current season.

"Everybody's moving," junior guard Markel Starks said. "Obviously I'm out of my place saying that it's about money, but obviously that's what it's about. I think that it doesn't really necessarily concern Georgetown basketball."

But conference affiliation played a part in some of the players' decisions to join the Hoyas in the first place. Junior forward Nate Lubick grew up in Massachusetts and said he used to attend the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden with his father.

"It's unfortunate what's happening to the league," Lubick said. "But it's not something that we can focus on right now."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner