Foggy Bottom 411: Lonergan on...Ripken and Go-go?

Foggy Bottom 411: Lonergan on...Ripken and Go-go?
March 19, 2014, 11:30 pm
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GW heads to Raleigh for the NCAA tournament

As George Washington men's basketball teams moves deeper into the madness of March, CSN will provide frequent mini-posts on the Foggy Bottom program at least until it's time for the Blue and Buff faithful to take off their dancing high tops. We're talking insight for the diehard fans, information for those just getting acquainted with the 24-8 squad and today...a look at 48-year-old coach Mike Lonergan's love of Go-go and how he uses Cal Ripken Jr. in motivational talks.

Next game: The No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament's East Region, GW faces No. 8 Memphis at 6:50 p.m. in a Round of 64 matchup on Friday in Raleigh.

*CSN: Players often use music pre-game to become energized, for motivation. Do you have a go-to song?

Lonergan: "I don’t really listen to music, but once in a while I’ll listen to Go-go as crazy as it sounds. I went to Carroll [High School].  I’m not a big music guy, but Go-go music I really liked a lot. I’ll listen to WPGC sometimes to see if it’s on. Besides that, I'm kind of boring. I’m a sports radio guy. I've got Sirius radio. I listen to 980. I listen to the Sports Junkies every morning coming in [to work]. Every minute of the day I want to get something out of it and even sports radio I feel like you can learn something from it. I’ve never owned [an MP3] or anything. 

CSN: So I can’t even ask what’s on your IPod.

Lonergan: "You can say Rare Essence. I still got some cassettes at home. Chuck Brown, The Soul Searchers, Experience Unlimited. My friends know. It’s good music. People think Rap, but it’s got nothing to do with Rap. It’s got this beat [Lonergan starts snapping his fingers]. It’s still kind of going around here. In the old days, I don’t know, it’s a mix of Jazz. You just get hooked on it. Everyone at Carroll listened to it so I got hooked."

* At this point your team has already surpassed pre-season expectations. Will you be satisfied with the season regardless of what happens in the NCAA Tournament?

Lonergan: "No matter what happens, in the middle of the summer I’ll feel good. But I tell the guys all the time about Cal Ripken Jr. His second year he went to the World Series with the [Baltimore] Orioles and then he never went back.

"I talked to some of our sophomores, Patricio [Garino] about that. I said, “Look, we have to seize the opportunity that we have. My best team at Vermont* didn’t make the NCAA’s. Probably my third best team [did].  It’s not a given that you can get back to this spot, that you’ll have a good RPI, that you’re in this great place. We got to play loose and all that, but we got to take advantage of where we are. I’m not just satisfied. 

[*] Lonergan coached Vermont to the 2010 NCAA Tournament plus NIT appearances in 2007 and 2011. The D.C area native also coached Catholic University, his alma mater, to the 2001 Division III national title.

"[At Catholic] we had been to three straight Sweet 16's and then we finally made the Final Four. I called a couple of guys that had been there. They told me, man, you’ve got to get your guys focused. The media and all that you don’t normally get. It’s hard to get to the Final Four in DIII, it’s incredible and Catholic U has never come close coming back. 

"We’re not in the Final Four, but it’s the same thing at this level. I think our guys know that. We have some young guys, but [upperclassmen and transfers] Isaiah [Armwood] and Maurice [Creek] know that. Isaiah has been to two NCAA Tournaments [with Villanova] but he hasn’t advanced.

"Mo has been to the Sweet 16 [with Indiana]. I showed our team his ring for motivation before the [Saint Joseph's] game. I showed them my NCAA Tournament watch. I’ve been to the NIT with Maryland and Vermont. I said, “The NCAA watch is a lot nicer."

Previous: Lonergan on "True Detective"