John Thompson III attempted to save face after yet another disappointing loss to a mid-major team. On Thursday, his Hoyas were blitzed by Arkansas State, falling behind by as many as 23 in the first half before running out of time with a strong rally. The 78-72 loss to the Red Wolves comes just two days after the Hoyas blew a nine-point lead in the final four minutes to Maryland, ultimately losing to their neighboring rivals for the second straight year.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock and a victory was in hand for Arkansas State, “Fire Thompson” chants were heard throughout the small on-campus McDonough Arena. Note, Hoyas have now lost to 10 games to traditional mid- or low-major programs since their 2007 Final Four appearance.
Following the game Thompson attempted to save face with his program’s second straight disappointing loss.
JT3: "With the pieces we have I wish we didn't have a difficult schedule early."
— The Hoya Sports (@thehoyasports) November 18, 2016
Thompson was referring to his inexperienced roster, that is filled with talent but needing time to jell together. The roster features Robert Morris-transfer Rodney Pryor, JUCO transfer Jonathan Mulmore, and true freshman Jagan Mosely.
The issue with Thompson’s lame excuse is this is the era of the One-and-done in which student athletes are going to college for one year before entering the NBA, not to mention the free agency of athletes transferring across the nation like Pryor, just about every program is dealing with the same issues. How does John Calipari play a difficult schedule with nearly an entire new team every year?
Last checked Arkansas State was not all that difficult on paper – they improved to No. 235 in the latest KenPom rankings with the win and were projected to finish 10th in a 12-team Sun Belt Conference. Additionally, the Red Wolves lost their season opener to North Dakota State 76-66. And the jury is still out on how successful Maryland will be this season.
Meanwhile, the Hoyas are set to endure a tough stretch as they travel to Maui to face a Final Four contender in Oregon. The Hoyas will be tested beyond that game with a field that includes North Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Connecticut, and Oklahoma State.
So in part Thompson’s excuse was truthful, but it still should be perceived as lame and a desperate plea to silence the “Fire Thompson” chants and media takes after another disappointment from the Hoyas. Even if a pass is given for the early struggles and what may follow them in Maui, what should happen if and when they drop another game against an inferior opponent?
Looking ahead of their schedule and knowing their history and what we’ve witness this week, any result should be expected against in upcoming contests against Coppin State, Elon, UNC-Greensboro, and La Salle. As the season plays out, one has to hope the Hoyas can right the ship or else those “Fire Thompson” chants will get louder and the seat will be hot for the young John Thompson.