Speaking last month at his program's season ending banquet, Georgetown men's basketball coach John Thompson III specifically mentioned being in touch with one of his prize pupils. Like a lot, like twice that very day with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
"Bumbling" is how Thompson described Hibbert's state in that moment as the Pacers battled with the Atlanta Hawks in the opening round of the playoffs. Indiana survived Atlanta, but Hibbert didn't shake the bumbles. The 7-foot-2 big man also did not record a point or rebound in the Game 1 loss of the second round series to the Washington Wizards.
Before the game, Thompson spoke with CSN's Chris Miller about what Hibbert needed to hear:
That is until his college coach showed up. Whatever was said, whether a footwork tip, a motivational ploy or simply some level of compassion, it clearly worked.
Hibbert scored a season-high 28 points with nine rebounds and two blocks. Named an All-Star this season, he once again became that kind of defensive presence, clogging the lane for John Wall and Washington's frontcourt options.
Hibbert did all that with Thompson sitting courtside. The cameras provided a de facto recruiting video, showing the coach at his stoic best. Apparently he was at his teaching best as well.
Asked what he said to Hibbert, JTIII kept his offerings close to the best:
Coaching never ends. Rarely do relationships formed at that intense player-coach level. What did end, at least one for game, Hibbert's bumbling.
Will the turnaround last, we'll see Friday night for game 3 at the Verizon Center. Something tells me we'll also Thompson in the building. If not, his former player knows where to find him before Game 4, just in case.