Coach Thompson Dead at 78

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Imposing Hall of Fame coach John Thompson has died at the age of 78.

Thompson is credited with turning Georgetown into a ``Hoya Paranoia'' powerhouse and the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men's basketball championship.

His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown today.

The statement said ``Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court.  He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.''

One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and moulded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by centre Patrick Ewing in 1984.

Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan's North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985.
    
    
  with files from  (The Associated Press)